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AFC playoff picture, 2015 NFL Week 11: Buffalo Bills rooting interests

The AFC playoff picture is complicated and involves a lot of teams entering Week 11. We sort through the mess for you as you root for everything to break the Buffalo Bills' way.

The Buffalo Bills don't play until Monday night, so you need someone to root for on Thursday and Sunday. We have the list for you here. For a refresher on tiebreakers, head to - but we'll also do our best to explain them here, too.


1. New England Patriots (9-0)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (8-1)
3. Denver Broncos (7-2)
4. Indianapolis Colts (4-5, head-to-head win over HOU)
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)
6. Buffalo Bills (5-4, head-to-head win over NYJ)
7. New York Jets (5-4, head-to-head loss to BUF)
8. Kansas City Chiefs (4-5, 1-1, AFCW, 3-2 AFC)
9. Oakland Raiders (4-5, 1-1 AFCW, 4-3 AFC)
10. Miami Dolphins (4-5, 2-5 AFC, head-to-head win over HOU)
11. Houston Texans (4-5, 3-3 AFC, head-to-head loss to IND, head-to-head loss to MIA)
12. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)
13. Baltimore Ravens (2-7, 2-5 AFC)
14. San Diego Chargers (2-7, 1-4 AFC)
15. Tennessee Titans (2-7, 0-5 AFC)
16. Cleveland Browns (2-8)

Who to root for

Buffalo (5-4) over New England (9-0)
Monday, November 23, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Bills can increase their playoff odds by a whopping 20 percent with a win on Monday, according to Sports Club Stats. A third straight victory in the AFC East would put Buffalo ahead of the Steelers into the fifth spot in the AFC thanks to their conference record. A loss puts them back into the muck with a bunch of other teams they'll need to crawl out from.

Houston (4-5) over New York Jets (5-4)
Sunday, November 22, 1:00 p.m. ET

Buffalo will play both of these teams down the stretch, so evening out their record is still the way to go to give the Bills some breathing room with the Jets off their backs. If Buffalo and the Jets both lose, the Bills would be ahead of both Houston and New York, but a Jets win and a Bills loss pushes Jersey into playoff position.

San Diego (2-7) over Kansas City (4-5)
Sunday, November 22, 4:05 p.m. ET

The surging Chiefs need to be put down. Several playoff oddsmakers have the Chiefs ahead of Buffalo in the long run thanks to an easier stretch run of opponents. That's a bad thing and an AFC West loss here would go a long way. Kansas City can pass Buffalo this week with a Chiefs win and Bills loss thanks to a better AFC winning percentage.

Detroit (2-7) over Oakland (4-5)
Sunday, November 22, 1:00 p.m. ET

Oakland has lost two straight and is behind Kansas City in the AFC West, but Detroit has the worst record in the NFL and Oakland next plays another bottom-dweller in Tennessee before a face-off with the Chiefs. A loss in the soft part of their schedule would virtually end their season with the Chiefs, Broncos, and Packers on deck. Oakland is another team that can pass Buffalo with a win and Bills loss.

Chicago (4-5) over Denver (7-2)
Sunday, November 22, 1:00 p.m. ET

With two straight losses and Peyton Manning injured, it's time to wonder if the Broncos will run away with the AFC West. This week, it doesn't much matter thanks to an NFC opponent. Denver plays Pittsburgh in Week 15, but everyone will still have something to play for at that point, so root for a Broncos loss this week in case they fall back to the wild card conversation.

Dallas (2-7) over Miami (4-5)
Sunday, November 22, 1:00 p.m. ET

If you root for a tie, we won't blame you. No Bills fan wants to root for either team. If Miami loses one more game, they are essentially eliminated from the AFC field thanks to lost tiebreakers against most of the other teams in the hunt. They have to be a game clear of Buffalo to pass them, and because of that, even a Dolphins win coupled with a Bills loss would keep Buffalo ahead.

Atlanta (6-3) over Indianapolis (4-5)
Sunday, November 22, 1:00 p.m. ET

It's clear Indianapolis could enter the wild card conversation before it's all said and done. Buffalo holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Indy, so they won't pass Buffalo in the wild card standings this week, but in a three-way tie that doesn't always matter. Root for Indy's record to falter even more to a NFC opponent.

Tennessee (2-7) over Jacksonville (3-6)
Thursday, November 19, 8:30 p.m. ET

Way down the list is this AFC South matchup. Leveling out these two teams, plus giving Buffalo a strength of victory boost, is a win-win.

Washington (4-5) over Carolina (9-0)
Sunday, November 22, 1:00 p.m. ET

Philadelphia (4-5) over Tampa Bay (4-5)
Sunday, November 22, 1:00 p.m. ET

We're scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Washington and Philadelphia wins boost Buffalo's strength of schedule tiebreaker. That's the sixth tiebreaker. Not a big deal.

St. Louis (4-5) over Baltimore (2-7)
Sunday, November 22, 1:00 p.m. ET

While you shouldn't be worried that Baltimore can make a run to the playoffs, a loss by them would certainly hurt a few wild card contenders in strength of victory and strength of schedule.

Cincinnati (8-1) over Arizona (7-2)
Sunday, November 22, 8:30 p.m. ET

Barring something kooky happening, Cincy is locked into the top two seeds with Denver faltering. They play Denver and Baltimore over the last two weeks of their season, which probably won't have any bearing on Buffalo's playoff chances, anyway. Since they played the Bills, it helps if their opponents' winning percentage goes up for that fifth tiebreaker, but it's way down the list.

San Francisco (3-6) at Seattle (4-5)
Green Bay (6-3) at Minnesota (7-2)

These divisional games in the NFC won't matter a hill of beans, and even if they do, it's impossible to foresee how in the tight AFC races. Without knowing which teams will be in the tiebreaker, we can't pick sides yet.

Byes: Pittsburgh (6-4), Cleveland (2-8), NY Giants (5-5), New Orleans (4-6)


It's pretty simple this week: a Bills win puts them in the No. 5 spot in the AFC with commanding tiebreaker leads. A loss, and they fall into the scrum at .500. They could go as low as ninth, with a loss coupled with wins from the Jets, Chiefs, and Raiders. It won't be do-or-die time at 5-5 with games remaining against two of those teams on the schedule, but things could become dicey really quickly for Rex Ryan and company.