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2014 NFL Week 16 early games open thread: Bills playoff race edition

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As we wait for the Bills and the Raiders to kick off this afternoon, let's cheer on the Steelers and the Texans, shall we?

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday night, the San Francisco 49ers - despite rushing for an unbelievable 355 yards as a team, and returning an interception for a touchdown - blew a commanding second half lead and lost a 38-35 decision to the visiting San Diego Chargers in overtime. The win puts the Chargers at 9-6, and decidedly ahead of the Buffalo Bills (for now) in the AFC playoff race.

Thanks for that, San Francisco.

Though a blow to the Bills' playoff chances, the Chargers' win does not do much to change what needs to happen for Buffalo this weekend. This thread will serve as your early games open thread - the Bills and the Oakland Raiders kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET - but before we get to that, let's quickly review the playoff picture in the AFC.

  • The Chargers' win makes it nearly imperative that the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) beat the Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) today. Buffalo is going to have a hard time catching Pittsburgh anyway, but if Kansas City falls to 8-7, and then beats San Diego in Week 17, then both teams would finish 9-7 and behind Buffalo. That's critical, because both teams have beaten Buffalo head to head.
  • Since we're rooting for a Pittsburgh win, we're rooting for a reciprocating Cincinnati loss, as well - even though a Denver win would keep them in the hunt for the No. 1 seed, thereby giving New England something to play for in Week 17. Buffalo has to pass at least three teams in the race, and Cincinnati falling back in the AFC North might be the easiest way to accomplish that, as they play Denver and then Pittsburgh to close up.
  • Case Keenum and the Houston Texans could do Buffalo an enormous favor by knocking off the Baltimore Ravens today. That game is in Houston, and J.J. Watt is a monster, so hey, anything can happen. Buffalo needs at least one of the three AFC North teams in the race to lose today; otherwise, they're eliminated.

Kansas City (8-6) at Pittsburgh (9-5) and Baltimore (9-5) at Houston (7-7) are 1:00 p.m. ET kickoffs, and should be the focus of Bills fans' attention until Bills-Raiders kicks off this afternoon. Enjoy the games! Go Steelers! Go Texans!