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AFC playoff picture, Week 14: Buffalo Bills fall to No. 11 overall

The Buffalo Bills lost on Sunday, but so did a lot of teams ahead of them. Even so, they have essentially run out of chances.

Isaiah J. Downing-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 had every opportunity to stay in the thick of the muddled AFC playoff picture on Sunday, but couldn't come away with a win against the Denver Broncos despite a borderline heroic performance against Peyton Manning.

Let's review the current AFC standings following Week 14, with a dozen teams still in the hunt.

Division leaders

  1. New England (10-3): They have a three-game lead in the East with three to play, and can clinch the division Sunday against the Dolphins at home.
  2. Denver (10-3): They are two games up with three to play and can clinch with a win Sunday in San Diego.
  3. Indianapolis (9-4): A come-from-behind victory over Cleveland puts them in a position to win this week against Houston to clinch the AFC South.
  4. Cincinnati (8-4-1): Despite a loss, they stay in first in the crazy AFC North with three games against AFC playoff contenders to finish the year.

Wild Card leaders

  1. Pittsburgh (8-5): A half-game out of the top spot in the North after their win over the Bengals, the Steelers control their own destiny in the AFC North and Wild Card races with games against Kansas City and Cincinnati to end the year.
  2. San Diego (8-5): A loss to the Patriots moves the Chargers down from fifth to sixth in the AFC playoff race. Divisional games against Denver and in Kansas City loom down the stretch.

The rest of the field

  1. Baltimore (8-5): They have the easiest path to the end of the season, facing Jacksonville, Houston, and Cleveland. A head-to-head loss to the Chargers means they need some help.
  2. Houston (7-6): How did they get to the head of the 7-6 class in one week? They have the best AFC record of the bunch, but play at Indianapolis this week.
  3. Miami (7-6): Their playoffs start this week in New England. A tough task, to be sure.
  4. Kansas City (7-6): Three straight losses have the Chiefs reeling after a solid start.
  5. Buffalo (7-6): Eleventh in the AFC with virtually no tiebreakers in their favor. Winning out might not even be enough and to do that, they need to beat Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
  6. Cleveland (7-6): Consecutive losses put the Browns at the bottom of the "In The Hunt" graphic, but they are still only 1.5 games back in the AFC North.

We'll have a more detailed look at the waning playoff scenarios for the Bills a little later in the week, but counting on the Falcons, Raiders, and Jaguars to win key December games for you isn't a good look.