AFC Playoff Picture: Week 8

At 4-2, the Bills are in the thick of the AFC East division race AND the AFC Wild Card race.  Statistically since 1995, 60% of teams that have started 4-2 have went on to make the playoffs.  Part of the 40% that make up the teams that did not make the cut are the 2015 Bills, the 2011 Bills and the 2008 Bills.  There is still a long way to go, and that includes a key AFC matchup this week against the Raiders at New Era Field.  First, a look at where things stand through seven weeks.

week8
Picture Credit: ESPN.com

Here’s a look at the important games and rooting interests for this week:

Miami @ Baltimore
Root for the Ravens here.  Based on the way that the Ravens have played lately, they are not viewed as a playoff threat to the Bills.  The Dolphins on the otherhand, are a bit of a mystery.  The AFC East appears to be a 3-team race, and adding a loss to the Dolphins record would be beneficial.

Oakland @ Buffalo 
A Bills win here and they will be off to their first 5-2 start in 6 seasons.  Also, a win would put history on their side as 73% of teams that start the season 5-2 make the playoffs, as compared to 47% of teams that start 4-3.  Plus, a win would help the Bills AFC conference record, which is the first tie-breaker for the wild card position.  This will be a tough one for the Bills.  Despite Oakland’s 3-4 record, they should still be viewed as the dangerous team that they were last year.

LA Chargers @ New England
As was the case last week, a Patriots loss and a Bills win means the Bills would take over 1st place in the AFC East.  For that reason, we should root for the Chargers here.  The Bills will get their chance at the Chargers in a few weeks, who are riding an impressive three game win streak and have put themselves back into Wild Card contention.

Atlanta @ NY Jets
The Jets are starting to come back to earth a bit.  Tacking on another loss to the Jets would essentially take them out of the playoff discussion after a few weeks of wondering if they needed to be included.  Root for the Falcons here.

Houston @ Seattle
Houston is 3-3 and are in the very crowded AFC South.  Bills fans need to root for only one of the Texans, Titans and Jaguars to make the playoffs (as the winner of the division), and hope the others accumulate so many losses along the way that are too low in the standings to be considered for a Wild Card position.  That should be the gameplan we root for, so we must root for the Seahawks here.

Broncos @ Chiefs
This is a tough one.  Let’s discuss both outcomes.  A Broncos win would put them at 4-3, jumble up the top of the AFC West and send the Chiefs to their third straight loss at 5-3.  In this scenario, the Bills would stay ahead of the Broncos regardless of their outcome due to their head-to-head victory over Denver.  A Chiefs win would put them at 6-2 and in complete control of the division, at least 2 games up on everyone else.  Denver would sit at 3-4 (still behind the Bills) and Oakland would be either 2 or 3 games behind based on the outcome of their game.  This one is open for interpretation on how you think the Bills could make the playoffs.  For me, I think the Chiefs will win the division, so it would benefit the Bills for the other Wild Card contenders to lose as much as possible (Denver being one of them).  For that reason, I would root for the Chiefs in this one.

Not as many key games with playoff implications as in prior weeks.  The most important game should be considered the Bills game.  This is a must-win for a team that wants to take the next step.  A 36% playoff chance swing hangs in the balance.  The Bills need this one.

Follow me on Twitter: @m_lafave

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