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Buffalo Bills playoff scenarios: Week 13 rooting interests

The Buffalo Bills need a lot of help to make the postseason, but it all starts with a win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday.

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Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

I have good news: you don't need to root for anyone on Thanksgiving, so enjoy the turkey and the trimmings and watch football without stress! Here are your rooting interests for this week's NFL action if you want the Buffalo Bills to make the playoffs. They're listed in order of importance.

The Big Games

Buffalo Bills (6-5) over Cleveland Browns (7-4)
Sunday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

There's no easy way to put this, Bills fans, so I'll just come out with it. The Bills need to run the table to make the postseason. Barring some sort of goalpost shortage in New England or a similarly odd occurrence around the AFC, the Bills are behind the eight ball in every tiebreaker and will need to be a game better than their counterparts to secure a wild card spot. It starts this week against the Browns.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9) over Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1)
Sunday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

New Orleans Saints (4-7) over Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4)
Sunday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

No one is running away with the AFC North. With NFC teams playing both the Bengals and Steelers this week, it's easy to root for the NFC South. Unfortunately, the NFC South is lousy and these aren't likely to happen. (That's part of the reason the AFC North teams are all three games over .500 right now.)

Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) over Denver Broncos (8-3)
Sunday, November 30, 8:30 p.m. ET

If Kansas City can beat Denver then Buffalo tops them the following week, the both Buffalo and Denver will be 8-5 and the Bills will hold a tiebreaker over Peyton Manning's team. It's all dependent on the Bills beating Denver, of course, but this would be the best case scenario.

New York Jets (2-9) over Miami Dolphins (6-5)
Monday, December 1, 8:30 p.m. ET

Stop laughing. There was no way the Jets could beat the Steelers, too, but they did. The Dolphins and Bills are tied in the AFC. Miami is currently ahead of Buffalo with a better divisional record (2-1 to 3-2). This would not only put the Dolphins in Buffalo's rear view mirror, it would give them a divisional loss to boot.

Baltimore Ravens (7-4) over San Diego Chargers (7-4)
Sunday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

We need both teams to lose, but a tie won't help. I would root for Baltimore because San Diego owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Buffalo, and they have a better conference record than the Ravens. Baltimore's schedule eases up down the stretch, though, while San Diego doesn't play another team with a losing record. This one's a coin flip for Bills fans, but will have a huge effect on the AFC playoff race.

Green Bay Packers (8-3) over New England Patriots (9-2)
Sunday, November 30, 4:25 p.m. ET

It's not really an important game for the Bills, playoff-wise, unless you think the Patriots are going to lose three games down the stretch. I don't. I wish this game was higher on the list of importance.

Not quite as important

Minnesota Vikings (4-7) over Carolina Panthers (3-7-1)
Sunday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

Oakland Raiders (1-10) over St. Louis Rams (4-7)
Sunday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

Strength of victory and strength of schedule probably won't come into play, but if it does, it's better for the Bills if Minnesota and Oakland have a better record.

New York Giants (3-8) over Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10)
Sunday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Jaguars losing helps lower the AFC North, Miami, and San Diego's strength of victory.

Tennessee Titans (2-9) over Houston Texans (5-6)
Sunday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

The only way Houston gets back into it is if Buffalo loses. If that happens, the Bills are toast anyway.

Washington Redskins (3-8) over Indianapolis Colts (7-4)
Sunday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

Is playoff seeding among the AFC division leaders important to you?

Meaningless Games

Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
Thursday, November 27 (Happy Thanksgiving!)

The Bills beat both the Bears and Lions, so the strength of victory will be the same no matter who wins. Enjoy all the games on Thanksgiving, folks!

Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, November 30th, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Falcons play the AFC North, while the Cardinals play the AFC West. Without knowing which teams will separate, this game isn't going to help the Bills yet.

If everything goes great for Buffalo, they'll be 7-5 but still behind the Chiefs and Ravens for the wild card spot in record and the Steelers and Bengals in conference record tiebreaker. They can move up to No. 9 in the standings on Sunday, passing the Dolphins (division record) and Browns (head to head), and they would be within striking distance of a wild card spot with the Broncos ready to kick off a hellacious December schedule.