Chase For the #1 Seed: Bills Back in the Mix

While the biggest game of the weekend won’t happen until Monday night, there are still a few matchups in the AFC today that will help sort out the top of a messy AFC. Just two weeks ago, the Bills’ chances for the 1 seed looked bleak, some favorable results and a Bills bounce back win puts them right back into the conversation.

AFC Standings

  1. Baltimore 8-3
  2. New England 8-4
  3. Tennessee 8-4
  4. Kansas City 7-4
  5. Cincinnati 7-4
  6. Buffalo 7-4
  7. LA Chargers 6-5
  8. Las Vegas 6-5
  9. Denver 6-5
  10. Indianapolis 6-5

The Bills have spent the majority of the last two weeks second in the division to the Patriots and because of that find themsevles in the 2nd wild card spot. The Ravens currently have the top spot in the conference, and it will be a tough one for them to hold onto with their remaining schedule being the 4th hardest in the league. So much in the conference changes week to week, this will be a fight until the end of the 17 game season.

New England @ Buffalo
A massive game for the Bills and the Patriots. I will lead with this: if the Bills lose on Monday it is not over for their division chances, regardless of what the media and fans will tell you. They will still get one more shot at the Patriots, and a split with New England is all they really need to hold the tiebreaker against them. A win on Monday night and the Bills have a good of a shot as anyone at the #1 seed in the AFC. A loss on Monday night and the Bills will find themselves in a dogfight for the AFC East until likely the last week of the season.

LA Chargers @ Cincinnati
This is a big game for the overall AFC playoff landscape. According to the New York Times playoff calculator, a Bills win and a Chargers win is slightly better for the Bills #1 seed chances. The Bills get a 2% bump with a Chargers win, and essentially no change with a Bengals win. Thinking about a tiebreaker against the Bills, the Bengals have 2 AFC losses and the Bills have 4 AFC losses. Getting the Bengals closer to the Bills 4 losses would be ideal. This is a toss up, but I’ll be rooting for the Chargers today.

Indianapolis @ Houston
A Texans win would help the Bills, as Buffalo losses the tiebreaker to the Colts in every scenario. The Colts are surging at the right time but might not have the firepower to catch the Titans for the AFC South. Both the Titans or Colts have beaten the Bills this season, so the winner of the AFC South does not matter too much.

Washington @ Las Vegas
If you are concerned (like I am) about the Bills ability to take care of their own business tomorrow night then these games with AFC fringe teams should be considered. If the Bills lose this weekend, the Bills would find themselves being in the same “in the hunt” category with other middle tier teams like the Raiders. A Washington win today wouldn’t hurt as a contingency plan in case the Bills lose tomorrow.

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh
Outside of the Bills game, this is the game that I will be looking at the most. If the Steelers win, they will push the Ravens to 4 losses, which would match the loss total of much of the top of the AFC, including the Bills. The Ravens have the 4th hardest remaining schedule, so even though they hold the top spot now, I do not expect them to be there at the end of the year.

Denver @ Kansas City
The Chiefs have positioned themselves back into the discussion for the top seed in the conference. Tiebreakers is where the Chiefs have a problem, as they have lost the head-to-head to Baltimore, Buffalo, and Tennessee. Because of this, their AFC record, which is the tiebreaker against teams they haven’t played, is also a terrible 2-4. It may be obvious, but root for the Broncos in this one.

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