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Buffalo Bills playoff scenarios: Week 14 rooting interests

The Buffalo Bills will need some help to make the playoffs. Here's what the team really needs to happen this week.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills were able to move to within striking distance of the AFC playoff race over the weekend, and are rewarded with three of the top four teams in the NFL over their final month of the season. Hooray! Like the team, we take it one week at a time here, so here are your rooting interests for Week 14 ranked in order of importance.

The big ones

Buffalo Bills (7-5) over Denver Broncos (9-3)
Sunday, December 7, 4:05 p.m. ET

If the Bills lose this game, their faint playoff hopes fall almost all the way to zero. They won't be done, but they'll be behind in every single AFC tiebreaker - and with the logjam of teams ahead of them, it will be nearly impossible to make up enough ground, even if they run the table. Did I mention the Broncos were 20-2 in home games since Peyton Manning came to town?

San Diego Chargers (8-4) over New England Patriots (9-3)
Sunday, December 7, 8:30 p.m. ET

No matter who loses and wins this game, it will help and hurt the Bills. A New England loss to the Chargers coupled with the Bills running the table would put the Bills ahead of the Patriots (and Dolphins) in tiebreakers, giving Buffalo the division and the likeliest path to the playoffs. If New England wins, Buffalo is still a head-to-head tiebreaker behind the Chargers and have a much worse conference record, but San Diego has several tough games down the stretch. Ultimately, Bills fans should root for the chance to control their own destiny with a Chargers win. (Plus, who wants to root for the Patriots?)

Arizona Cardinals (9-3) over Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)
Sunday, December 7, 4:05 p.m. ET

The other 4:05 kickoff features the Chiefs, one of the teams between Buffalo and a playoff spot. A Kansas City loss coupled with a Buffalo win pushes the Bills past the Chiefs. They still play at Pittsburgh and host the Chargers, as well. Whoever comes out of the AFC will earn it over the last month.

Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1) over Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. ET

Currently locked in with Buffalo at 7-5, the Steelers own a superior conference record - and were it not for a fluky three-way tie for second in the AFC North, they would sit ahead of the Bills in a head-to-head comparison. Buffalo needs the Bengals to run away with the division by beating up the Steelers.

Miami Dolphins (7-5) over Baltimore Ravens (7-5)
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. ET

Essentially, the Bills are damned if they do and damned if they don't here. Logistically speaking, a tie is the best case scenario, so root for that. Baltimore has games against Jacksonville, Houston, and Cleveland to finish off the year, while Miami faces Minnesota, New England (who they beat once) and the Jets to close it out. I'd rather bank on the Dolphins losing a game down the stretch than the Ravens. This game is exactly the reason the Bills need to win out.

Indianapolis Colts (8-4) over Cleveland Browns (7-5)
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. ET

Buffalo owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Browns, but that's not always good enough (see the AFC North's three-way tie). It's not that important, but it is better for the Bills if the Browns are a game worse than them the rest of the way.

Much less important games

Chicago Bears over Dallas Cowboys
Thursday, December 4, 8:25 p.m. ET

New York Jets over Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. ET

Detroit Lions over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. ET

These three games all have one thing in common: wins from the Bears, Jets, and Lions will help Buffalo's strength of victory, the fourth tiebreaker in the wild card race. While Buffalo isn't likely to match anyone else in deplorable conference record, we'd still like to see these outcomes.

Houston Texans (6-6) over Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. ET

Houston might be nipping at the Bills' collective heels, but if Buffalo allows the Texans back in the race it will be with a loss, so tiebreakers won't really matter anymore. After strength of victory, strength of schedule is the next tiebreaker, and since the Bills saw one but not both of these teams, the Texans get the edge.

Washington Redskins over St. Louis Rams
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Eagles over Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, December 7, 4:25 p.m. ET

Since the Chiefs and Chargers beat both the Rams and Seahawks, a win by those teams would boost their strength of victory. The Eagles and Redskins played the AFC South, which does not concern Buffalo. It's down the list of tiebreakers, but if you need someone to root for in games, here you go.

San Francisco 49ers over Oakland Raiders
Sunday, December 7, 4:25 p.m. ET

Kansas City and San Diego play the Raiders twice, so we want them to do worse to lower their strength of victory and strength of schedule.

New York Giants over Tennessee Titans
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. ET

Tennessee's games against the AFC North mean we want them to lose to lower the strength of victory for Pittsburgh and Baltimore. It also hurt's Kansas City's strength of schedule.

Green Bay Packers over Atlanta Falcons
Monday, December 8, 8:30 p.m. ET

Since the Bills play the Packers and not the Falcons, a win from Green Bay boosts Buffalo's strength of schedule at the least, and strength of victory at the best.

Carolina Panthers over New Orleans Saints
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m. ET

You have to delve pretty deep to find anything, but here goes: Pittsburgh lost to New Orleans but beat Carolina, so this would be worse for their strength of victory.