Should Bills’ Fans Be Rooting for the Titans or Patriots?

After the Bills took care of their own business Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints, the focus quickly shifted to the playoff picture around the AFC and the biggest matchup of the weekend, the Tennessee Titans and the New England Patriots. Bills fans seem to be torn on which result would be better for the Bills. Let’s go through both options and the impact it would have on the Bills’ AFC East and 1st round bye chances. As it stands, these are the chances for the Bills to make the playoffs, earn the 1st round bye, and win the division, according to the New York Times Playoff Simulator.

All images courtesy of New York Times Playoff Simulator

The Case For a Titans Win

On principle alone this is where most Bills fans are, as they can’t being themselves to root for the Patriots. Currently the Titans are the 1 seed in the AFC with an 8-3 record. The Bills are 7-4, and despite having one less win the Bills are technically 2 games behind the Titans because of the tiebreak. If the Bills are to pass the Titans for the #1 seed, they will have to beat them by at least 1 game. As was the case last week against the Texans, Bills fans should be rooting against the Titans every week. Simply put, to root against the Titans is to have your sights set on the 1 seed.

The Titans must lose 1 additional game than the Bills for the Bills to pass them. It is possible, but unlikely considering the Titans remaining schedule: @ NE, vs. JAX, @ PIT, vs. SF, vs. MIA, @ HOU.

According to the simulator, a Titans win against the Patriots has the following impact on the Bills’ chances:

As you can see, a Titans win decreases their 1 round bye chances by (-4%) but increases their AFC East chances by (+10%).

The Case For a Patriots Win

If the Patriots beat the Titans, which I think is quite possible given Bill Belichick’s track record against his previous employees, the Bills will inch closer to the #1 seed, but will also inch closer to losing the division. Tiebreakers between the Bills and the Patriots are still to be determined but the Patriots do have an easier schedule down the stretch than the Bills. New England finishes with vs. TEN, @ BUF, @ IND, vs. BUF, vs. JAX, @ MIA.

According to the simulator, a Patriots win has the following impact on the Bills’ playoff chances.

While the Bills’ chances for the 1 seed increase by (+6%), their chances of winning the division decrease by (-14%). Compared to what happens with the opposite scenario, the Bills have more to lose if the Patriots win on Sunday.

Big Picture

Next week the Bills have a monstrous matchup against the Patriots. A Titans win on Sunday buys the Bills a little more real estate if they were to lose to the Patriots on Monday Night Football. If the Patriots lose this week but then beat the Bills next week, the Bills’ AFC East chances sit at 39%, according to the simulations. However, a Patriots loss this week combined with a Bills win against them on Monday Night Football catapults the Bills division chances to 79%. Given how inconsistent the Bills have been this year, and the devastating loss to All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White, giving the Bills a 1-game head start going into their Monday Night showdown against the Patriots is a best case scenario.

Take your pick Bills fans: the Bills have more to lose (the division) if the Patriots win and more to gain (the 1 seed) if the Titans win. Either way, we will break it all down and take a look at where things stand ahead of the Bills’ huge Monday Night Football game next week.

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