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AFC playoff picture, 2015 NFL Week 13: Buffalo Bills rooting interests

The Buffalo Bills need a win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, plus a whole lot of help from other teams in the playoff race, to move up in the AFC standings this weekend. Here's who you need to root for.

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 enter Week 13 just one game out of playoff position, but they're also looking up pretty far in the standings thanks to tiebreakers. To compound matters, a few teams the Bills need to pass are playing each other this week, crowding the rooting interests even more.

Fear not, brave Bills fans rooting for a playoff run: we have you covered. Here are the teams you should root for in Week 13, in order of importance.


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

Buffalo (5-6) over Houston (6-5)
Sunday, December 6, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Texans are riding a winning streak and are getting great play from their defense. That was supposed to be the Bills' model. If the Bills lose, we rightfully enter the "well they are technically alive but need a miracle" stage of the football season. If they win, they are probably going to be right back in the middle of it. Buffalo's chances of making the playoffs goes up nearly ten points with a win according to the NY Times playoff simulator.

Indianapolis (6-5) over Pittsburgh (6-5)
Sunday, December 6, 8:30 p.m. ET

The biggest game on the board, it's a 13-percentage-point swing if Indianapolis can pull off the victory. Pittsburgh has the toughest road to the playoffs in the AFC, but the more losses they have, the better.

Giants over Jets (6-5)
Sunday, December 6, 1:00 p.m. ET

Buffalo still controls their destiny against the Jets but a little help from a Giants team that already beat Buffalo this season wouldn't hurt.

Oakland (5-6) over Kansas City (6-5)
Sunday, December 6, 4:05 p.m. ET

This is actually pretty meaningless to Buffalo according to the odds site and playoff simulators. (NY Times says to root for the Chiefs while Sports Club Stats says Raiders.) By rooting for the Raiders, you keep Oakland in the discussion and currently ahead of the Bills but by rooting for the Chiefs you're essentially taking one playoff spot off the board. We're rooting to stop Kansas City's winning streak and evening all the teams' records at 6-6 but it's a true toss-up. We're not ready to concede anything to the Chiefs.

Tennessee (2-9) over Jacksonville (4-7)
Sunday, December 6, 1:00 p.m. ET

One of the few other games on the docket with even a glimmer of meaning, if Buffalo loses another game to fall back into a tie with Jacksonville, it probably won't matter anyway.

Miami (4-7) over Baltimore (4-7)
Sunday, December 6, 1:00 p.m. ET

Strength of victory tiebreaker is way, way down the list.

Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
Denver vs. San Diego

The two division leaders and two division basement-dwellers makes a meaningless game for Bills fans.

Philadelphia vs. New England

The Patriots have already clinched a better record than Buffalo and the Bills can't win the division so it's meaningless, playoff-wise. Who are we kidding? GO EAGLES!

San Francisco vs. Chicago
Seattle vs. Minnesota
Arizona vs. St. Louis
Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay
Carolina vs. New Orleans
Dallas vs. Washington
Green Bay vs. Detroit

Without knowing who will eventually be in tiebreaking scenarios with the Bills, there isn't even a team to root for for tiebreakers far down the list.


If everything goes Buffalo's way, they'll be 6-6 and could even sneak into playoff position. With what we suggested above, they could be ahead of the Steelers, Jets, and Texans into seventh place. If the Raiders lose, Buffalo could get into sixth place. Does any of this seem far-fetched?

It's a long-play for Bills fans and a win this week with some key losses gets them back within striking distance. As the Packers proved on Thursday Night, all you need to do is be within striking distance.