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Buffalo Bills playoff picture: Week 15 rooting interests, scenarios

The Buffalo Bills could move up to sixth in the AFC with a win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday - and a lot of help.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills have a lot of ways left to make the playoffs, but they need a win on Sunday over the Green Bay Packers. They don't control their own destiny and none of them are especially probable, but the possibilities exist. Here are the games that will matter the most in descending order of importance.

Buffalo Bills (7-6) over Green Bay Packers (10-3)

Sunday, December 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

Buffalo needs to win. The 9-7 possibilities of making the playoffs are pretty horrible.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) over Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

Sunday, December 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Ravens are the linchpin for the Bills to jump up considerably. Baltimore owns the division tiebreaker over Pittsburgh and Cleveland. If Baltimore loses, they would tie Buffalo with a horrid 4-6 conference record, and the Bills' strength of victory tiebreaker would put Buffalo ahead. Long story short, Baltimore is one team the Bills can beat in tiebreakers - and since they are at the top of the wild card teams in the AFC North, Buffalo could leapfrog the entire division.

Atlanta Falcons (5-8) over Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

Sunday, December 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

Cleveland Browns (7-6) over Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1)

Sunday, December 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

In order for those aforementioned tiebreakers to matter, the Steelers, Browns and Ravens all need to be tied. If it's just Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the Steelers win the tiebreaker and Buffalo stays down the list. Despite keeping the Browns in the race, this scenario pushes Buffalo up even further than a Browns loss, at least for this week. If the Browns lose, it's also good for the Bills longer term.

Oakland Raiders (2-11) over Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)

Sunday, December 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

Indianapolis Colts (9-4) over Houston Texans (7-6)

Sunday, December 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

If Oakland can knock off Kansas City for the second time this season, it would get them in Buffalo's rear-view mirror (remember, we're assuming the Bills win). It's a pretty easy call. Ditto for the Colts versus the Texans.

Denver Broncos (10-3) over San Diego Chargers (8-5)

Sunday, December 14, 4:05 p.m. ET

Another clear pick is to let the Broncos run away with the AFC West and knock the Chargers back into the mess at 8-6. For those of you who might want New England to sew up home-field advantage before Week 17, it won't matter if Buffalo is further back of the Chargers.

New England Patriots (10-3) over Miami Dolphins (7-6)

Sunday, December 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

Yes, the Bills can still win the division. It might even be the most likely scenario in which they make the playoffs. But that means New England losing three straight division matchups, including two at home, where they have been virtually unbeatable. In a three-way tie between Miami, New England, and Buffalo at 10-6, the Dolphins likely win the tiebreaker. In this case, it will be best to get Miami below you in the standings for good, and concede the division. It's lower on the list because a Dolphins win could also eventually get the Bills into the playoffs.

New York Jets (2-11) over Tennessee Titans (2-11)

Sunday, December 14, 4:05 p.m. ET

Buffalo's tiebreaker over Baltimore right now is strength of victory. The Bills beat the Jets twice, so every win they get counts double to raise that metric for Buffalo. I won't say "root for the Jets," but I will say "root for Buffalo's strength of victory!"

Chicago Bears (5-8) over New Orleans Saints (5-8)

Monday, December 15, 8:30 p.m. ET

Same concept here as the Jets; Buffalo beat the Bears, and this helps the strength of victory.

Washington Redskins (3-10) vs. New York Giants (4-9)

Sunday, December 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

Dallas Cowboys (9-4) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)

Sunday, December 14, 8:30 p.m. ET

Both these teams have faced the AFC South this year. Houston's the only team these two games could affect, and they own a head-to-head tiebreaker and have a much better conference record than Buffalo.

Arizona Cardinals (10-3) vs. St. Louis Rams (6-7)

Thursday, December 11, 8:30 p.m. ET

San Francisco 49ers (7-6) vs. Seattle Seahawks (9-4)

Sunday, December 14, 4:25 p.m. ET

These teams have faced the AFC West this year. Because Buffalo can't compete with the Chargers or Chiefs in AFC record, they won't get to the strength of victory tiebreaker here, so it won't really matter who wins either of these games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) vs. Carolina Panthers (4-8-1)

Sunday, December 14, 1:00 p.m. ET

Baltimore beat both of these teams, so it's not going to matter who wins.

Minnesota Vikings (6-7) vs. Detroit Lions (9-4)

Sunday, December 14, 4:25 p.m. ET

Buffalo beat both of these teams, so one beating the other isn't going to matter.

Here is what the best case scenario is for the Bills after this week in the NFL, with visual thanks to the ESPN Playoff Machine. It's not all that bad, as the Bills end up in playoff position for the time being:

Week 15 Rooting