Bills playoff picture: Sitting pretty

Buffalo Bills

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 24: John Brown #15 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates with fans after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NFL game against the Denver Broncos at New Era Field on November 24, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo Bills defeated the Denver Broncos 20-3. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Here’s where things stand in the AFC after 12 weeks of the NFL season:

Top Wild Card: Buffalo Bills

Current record: 8-3

Likely wins remaining: 1 (vs NYJ)

Likely losses remaining: 3 (at DAL, vs BAL, at NE)

Toss-ups remaining: 1 (at PIT)

Overview: The Bills may want to send Adam Gase a thank you gift. Not only did Buffalo take care of business (again) and get to 8-3, the Jets dispatched the Raiders with alarming ease. The Bills are now two games clear of anyone else in the AFC Wild Card race and the tiebreaker projection with Oakland gets flipped from a loss to a win (we’ll explain why below).

Unless two of the 6-5 teams run the table (see hell, a cold day in), any ten wins should be plenty to get Buffalo in the postseason. One caveat: it would be a little better if one of the wins did NOT come Thursday against Dallas. Just one loss to NFC teams for the season would create Buffalo a problem against the Raiders and in three-team ties because their AFC record would not beat anyone.

For more on Buffalo’s current situation in a tie with any of their playoff chase rivals, see below.

2nd Wild Card: Pittsburgh Steelers

Current record: 6-5

Likely wins remaining: 1 (at NYJ)

Likely losses remaining: 1 (at BAL)

Toss-ups remaining: 3 (vs CLE, at AZ, vs BUF)

Overview: The Steelers won, but that’s about the end of the good news for Pittsburgh Sunday. Mason Rudolph got benched because he wasn’t productive against the Bengals. Even Nate Peterman is cringing. The red hot Browns come to Pittsburgh Sunday thinking playoffs and smelling blood. This is usually when the Steelers jump out of the shadows with a kill shot for a mouthy upstart like Cleveland. It’s just hard to envision Devlin Hodges wielding the knife. The math will say otherwise, but the loser at the Big Ketchup Bottle this weekend is likely toast.

Bills tiebreaker projectionDecided by head to head. It’s possible there’s a three team tie that would negate the head to head winner’s tiebreaking advantage. If so, that’s bad for the Bills.

Top Contender: Oakland Raiders

Current record: 6-5

Likely wins remaining: None

Likely losses remaining: 1 (at KC)

Toss-ups remaining: 4 (vs TEN, vs JAC, at LAC, at DEN)

Overview: That wasn’t just a cold bucket of water for Jon Gruden Sunday at MetLife, it was a head to toe polar plunge. A 34-3 shellacking at the hands of the Jets. Derek Carr didn’t make it out of the third quarter and Sam Darnold restored his full savior status (it was enough to consider moving Jets games in this article to the “Toss-up” category… but only for a moment). Oakland made life difficult on themselves, but didn’t kill their chances. However, to really bother the Bills, they might have to run the table because…

Bills tiebreaker projection: probable win. As mentioned above, a Buffalo win over Dallas puts them behind the conference record 8-ball. Let’s ignore that scenario. The next tiebreak is common games. Oakland’s loss to the Jets makes them 2-1 in common games with the Bills (NYJ, CIN, TEN, DEN). Buffalo is now 4-0 after beating Denver and a home victory over the Jets away from clinching this tiebreak. Something that’s only necessary if Oakland doesn’t lose to Tennessee first. In three hours Sunday afternoon, the Bills essentially picked up THREE games on the Raiders.

Still Very Alive: Indianapolis Colts

Current record: 6-5

Likely wins remaining: 1 (at TB)

Likely losses remaining: 1 (at NO)

Toss-ups remaining: 3 (vs TEN, vs CAR, at JAC)

Overview: The Colts fought Houston hard Thursday and the loss did little damage. They remain in the thick of the playoff hunt. Indy can almost bury the Titans with a win Sunday and a head to head sweep for the season. The big negative for the Colts is a weak conference record and few chances to improve it.

Bills tiebreaker projection: nearly certain win. The loss to Houston means Indy can’t beat Buffalo in a 10-6 tie. The best Indy can hope for with AFC record is a match, but then Buffalo has already locked the Colts out in common games (it’s MIA, PIT, TEN, DEN here). Even in three or four team ties at 10-6, the Bills no longer have to worry about the Colts. 9-7 would be a bit different story, but would require a Buffalo mini-collapse to consider it.

Back from the dead: Tennessee Titans.

Current record: 6-5

Likely wins remaining: None

Likely losses remaining: 2 (vs. NO, at HOU)

Toss-ups remaining: 3 (at IND, at OAK, vs HOU)

Overview: I’ve been loathe to include the Titans here. I mean… just look at that schedule! Sure, those toss-up games are winnable individually, but even Reborn Ryan Tannehill isn’t winning all of them. However, if you’re tied for a playoff spot, I have to take the time to discuss your situation. So, there you go, Titans Nation.

Bills tiebreaker projection: Almost certain win. Bills have the head to head win in any two team tie. A three team tie would probably give Tennessee the nod, but Buffalo getting knocked out of the playoffs by a team they beat head to head is not worth your mental exercise.

Pipe down, Browns fans.

I know, I know. One game out. Baker is heating up. They just dropped 40 on a team.

However, only one of the 6-5 teams probably makes the playoffs and the Browns still has a rematch with the Baltimore Bulldozers left. You know what Cleveland? Go beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh and then we’ll talk.

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