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NFL playoff picture 2015: Buffalo Bills ascend during bye week

The bye week was good to the Buffalo Bills when it comes to the AFC playoff race, as they received just about all of the help they could have reasonably expected. They're currently 8th overall in the conference, one game out of wild card contention.

Jim Brown-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 didn't play a game this weekend, but received nearly all of the help that they could have possibly expected from other teams in the AFC playoff race. Entering the second half of their season, they can begin fresh knowing they have some room for error down the stretch - even if many fans think the sky is falling.

Buffalo's good fortune began on Thursday night, when Miami's hot streak ended at the hands of New England, dropping Miami into a tie with Buffalo at eighth place in the conference. Miami is now 0-3 in division play, and a loss on the road to Buffalo this Sunday would drop them down to 0-4 in the AFC East. It's a big weekend for them.

On Sunday, Cincinnati helped Buffalo by handing Pittsburgh their fourth loss and extending their lead in the AFC North. Pittsburgh is just a half-game ahead of Buffalo, with their late Week 11 bye coming in two weeks. Oakland was able to keep the New York Jets within striking distance, as well, by beating them in Oakland. Buffalo is now just one game out of both wild card spots, with a game against the Jets and their banged-up quarterbacks in two weeks.

Outside of Ralph Wilson Stadium, the biggest AFC game looming in Week 9 has fifth-place Oakland traveling east to take on seventh-place Pittsburgh. Buffalo could move back into playoff position with an AFC East victory following the bye.


T1. Cincinnati Bengals (7-0, 6-0 AFC)
T1. New England Patriots (7-0, 6-0 AFC)
3. Denver Broncos (7-0, 4-0 AFC)
4. Indianapolis Colts (3-4, head-to-head win over HOU)
5. Oakland Raiders (4-3, head-to-head win over NYJ)
6. New York Jets (4-3)
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)
8. Buffalo Bills (3-4, head-to-head win over MIA)
9. Miami Dolphins (3-4)
10. Kansas City Chiefs (3-5, head-to-head win over HOU)
11. Houston Texans (3-5)
12. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5)
13. San Diego Chargers (2-6, head-to-head win over CLE)
14. Cleveland Browns (2-6, head-to-head win over BAL)
15. Baltimore Ravens (2-6)
16. Tennessee Titans (1-6)