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AFC playoff picture: Week 9 Buffalo Bills rooting interests

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The Bills are still very much in the AFC playoff picture. What needs to happen for them to rise in the conference standings this weekend?

Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills were able to ascend in the AFC playoff picture last Sunday without even playing a game. This week, they'll need a win over a divisional opponent and some help, but can move into playoff position on Sunday. Here is who you should root for this weekend, Bills fans.

(For a refresher on tiebreakers, head to NFL.com - but we'll also do our best to explain them here, too. We won't go all the way down to the fifth and sixth tiebreakers and just call it a tie, at least for now.)

Standings

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)
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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)

Who to root for

Buffalo (3-4) over Miami (3-4)

Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Bills could deal a final death blow to the Dolphins, who already sit at 0-3 in the AFC East. Buffalo needs this win after dropping their last AFC contest to Jacksonville. It won't end their season, but it will erase any room for error down the stretch.

Jacksonville (2-5) over New York Jets (4-3)

Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m. ET

A Buffalo win coupled with a New York loss moves the Bills ahead of the Jets in tiebreakers. With two games coming against the Jets in the final half of the season, it's not imperative that this game goes Buffalo's way, but it sure would help.

Pittsburgh (4-4) over Oakland (4-3)

Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m. ET

Every fiber in my being thinks you should root for Oakland based on Pittsburgh's history of past success, but I think in this case it might be wrong. Pittsburgh still has to face Cincinnati and Denver down the stretch. Oakland has Denver and Green Bay left to play, though. Ultimately, if it comes down to tiebreakers, Oakland has a 4-2 record in the AFC while Pittsburgh is at 1-3 and that needs to even out a little for Buffalo, who sits at 3-3 in the AFC.

Cincinnati (7-0) over Cleveland (2-6)

Thursday, November 5, 8:30 p.m. ET

Chicago (2-5) over San Diego (2-6)

Monday, November 9, 8:30 p.m. ET

It's amazing how few games matter to the AFC playoff race this week, but with multiple contenders on a bye, that's where we are at. Cincinnati will have plenty to play for down the stretch with the other undefeated AFC teams, and if you can knock out Cleveland and San Diego, it certainly doesn't hurt Buffalo's playoff chances.

Denver (7-0) over Indianapolis (3-4)

Sunday, November 8, 4:25 p.m. ET

Indianapolis clearly isn't going to run away with the division, so it's better for them to lose in case they end up in a battle for the wild card.

Washington (3-4) over New England (7-0)

Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m. ET

I guess if you're holding out hope the Bills can win the division...

Tennessee (1-6) over New Orleans (4-4)

Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m. ET

New York Giants over Tampa Bay

Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m. ET

Boosting Buffalo's strength of victory and strength of schedule tiebreakers is way down the list.

Outcomes

If everything goes the right way for Buffalo, both Buffalo and Oakland will be 4-4 with a 4-3 record in the AFC, and in a virtual tie for the sixth playoff spot behind 5-4 Pittsburgh.

In the event that Oakland beats Pittsburgh but the Jets lose, Oakland will be the fifth seed at 5-3, with Buffalo in sixth at 4-4 following a win, New York in seventh at 4-4, and Pittsburgh a half-game back at 4-5.

Either of those scenarios work, but it's better to have both spots in striking distance than just one. A Bills win and Jets loss would be huge.