Heading into the bye week, the Buffalo Bills find themselves in a log jam with 8 other teams competing for the last Wild Card spot in the AFC Playoffs.
There is only one spot remaining because, let’s be honest, the AFC East, North, and South division races are already won (Patriots, Bengals, and Colts respectively), and whichever team doesn’t win the West (Denver, Kansas City) is going to have the first Wild Card spot.
I wrote a few weeks ago that the Bills were officially out of the hunt for the last spot in the playoffs, but I may have spoken too soon. If the Bills can win out, which shouldn’t be too difficult considering how weak their schedule is, there is no reason the Bills can’t find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
I’m going to take a gander at what would need to happen in order for this to happen. Remember as you’re reading this, this only works if the Bills finish 9-7.
Buffalo Bills 4-7
Remaining Schedule: Atlanta (in Toronto), @Tampa Bay, @Jacksonville, Miami, @New England
Like I mentioned before, it’s not inconceivable that the Bills win the rest of their games. The only real thing stopping this from happening is the Patriots. So…I’m going to say something that I never thought I would say.
Before you start cursing at me and click out of this article, hear me out. If the Patriots can beat the Broncos this week and win the rest of the games leading to the Week 17 against Buffalo, they may be sitting starters and coasting into home-field advantage for the playoffs. I’m sorry I had to go all out with the exclamation point and everything. It was as hard for me to type as it was for you to read. Forgive me?
Tennessee Titans 4-6
Remaining Schedule: @Oakland, @Indy, @Denver, Cards, @Jacksonville, Texans
So I think it’s safe to say that the Titans could be out of contention before they even get to the Cardinals game. Do you trust Ryan Fitzpatrick playing on the road with a chance of making the playoffs? No…the answer is no. Goodbye Tennessee, and you can bring your Music City Miracle with you (I promise I’m not still bitter).
New York Jets 5-5
Remaining Schedule: @Baltimore, Miami, Oakland, @Carolina, Cleveland, @Miami
This is one I struggled with. Buffalo completely dismantled the Jets last week and Geno Smith couldn’t have looked worse. We hold the tie-breaker over Baltimore so hop on the Ravens bandwagon for this coming Sunday. Let’s figure they split with Miami and beat Oakland. The Panthers are in the hunt for the playoffs and have been looking really good so we will assume they take care of business at home. Cleveland holds a tie breaker over us so when that games comes around, we definitely need to be rooting for the Jets (what is going on with me…rooting for the Patriots and the Jets?). Doing the math, that puts the Jets at 7-9.
Miami Dolphins 5-5
Remaining Schedule: Carolina, @Jets, @Pittsburgh, New England, @Buffalo, Jets
I was almost going to completely write this Dolphins team off until they improbably beat the Chargers. I thought Incognito-gate was going to completely derail this team. I was wrong.
This team pulled out a decent win over the Chargers last week. Although I’m not completely buying that this whole locker room scandal isn’t taking its toll on the team, I don’t think this team is dead in the water. This week they have Carolina who just took care of the Patriots on Monday night. With the defensive front-7 of Carolina against a decimated Miami offensive line, I think Tannehill could have a long afternoon. Pencil this in as a loss for Miami. As I mentioned before, because of the inconsistency of the Jets, we are going to assume they split with them. Pittsburgh looks to be back on track so let’s pencil that as well. We want New England to win out so we will be rooting for the Patriots that week.
In Week 16 the Dolphins travel to Buffalo. The Bills were able to win their first meeting with Thad Lewis starting at quarterback. With Miami having two backup offensive linemen starting, I think that Marcel Darius and Mario Williams could have a field day sacking Tannehill and breaking up the run. Buffalo wins at home. Miami finished 6-10, and will be sitting at home come January.
Baltimore Ravens, 4-6
Remaining Schedule: Jets, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, @Detroit, Patriots, @Cincinnati
As I mentioned before, Buffalo holds the tie-breaker over the Ravens after beating them in Week 4. So, root for them to beat the Jets Sunday. The Ravens and Steelers always play each other really tough, so this one is up in the air. Pittsburgh has been playing better as of late so chalk this up as a loss for Baltimore. Minnesota is a train wreck so I’m going to assume that the Ravens take care of business, especially since it’s at home. Next, they travel to Detroit to play a Lions team that will be in a tight race in their division, so I’ll take the Lions. After that, they take on the Patriots, who will be still fighting for home-field advantage so that’s a loss for Baltimore. Their final game is in Cincinnati where the Bengals will have nothing to play for so I’ll take Baltimore on the road. Final record, 7-9.
Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-6
Remaining Schedule: @Cleveland, @Baltimore, Miami, Cincinnati, @Green Bay, Cleveland
This is the team that in my opinion, worries me the most. The Steelers hold the tie-breaker over the Bills after beating them in Week 10 pretty convincingly. Even though they started off terribly, they seemed to have righted the ship. This team is capable of ripping off a bunch of wins because of two things.
- They have a Head Coach in Mike Tomlin who knows how to win
- They have a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who has won multiple Super Bowls
Because of those 2, this team is dangerous. Looking at their schedule, I feel like they are a better team than the Browns. Jason Campbell has been playing decently for Cleveland but I don’t think it’s sustainable. Plus, the Browns are always one hit away from the man, the myth, the legend, Brandon Weeden coming onto the field. I say that the Steelers win both Cleveland games. As I mentioned above, the Steelers have been playing better so I think they go into Baltimore and come out with a win. Miami has Incognito-gate hovering over their heads to Pittsburgh wins at home. Cincinnati will probably still be jockeying for playoff positioning, so I think the Red-Rifle and A.J. Green knock the Steelers off their winning streak. The following week, they travel to Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers will be back by this point and be gunning to make the playoffs. Green Bay has been struggling as of late but never count out Rodgers. Final record, 8-8. Too little too late for the Steelers.
San Diego Chargers, 4-6
Remaining Schedule: @Kansas City, Cincinnati, Giants, @Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
This team is another team that I have difficulty predicting. The success of this team all depends on what Phillip Rivers you’re getting; the Phillip Rivers that plays like a top-10 quarterback in the NFL, or the Phillip Rivers that throws interceptions and cusses out a teammate.
Looking at the schedule, this coming Sunday they travel to Kansas City, who are coming off a tough loss in Denver, so I expect them to win. Cincinnati is another team that is inconsistent so that one’s hard for me to pick. I’ll give the Chargers the benefit of the doubt and say they get good Phillip Rivers and come out with a win. The Giants have looked like a mess, but never count out Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin when their backs are against the wall, I’ll take the Giants. After that, they travel to Denver…no explanation needed, Broncos win. After that they have Oakland at home…good Phillip Rivers takes the stage, Chargers win. In Week 17 they get the Chiefs, who will most likely have nothing to play for, so we will again give the Chargers the benefit of the doubt. Final record, 8-8.
Oakland Raiders, 4-6
Remaining Schedule: Tennessee, @Dallas, @Jets, Kansas City, @Chargers, Denver
I’ll keep this short and sweet. This Raiders team isn’t good. The only reason they haven’t been a complete disaster is because of Terrell Pryor’s ability to make something out of nothing. He’s out with an MCL sprain, so I think the Raiders are done. 5-11.
Cleveland Browns, 4-6
Remaining Schedule: Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, @New England, Chicago, @Jets, @Pittsburgh
This is another team that I feel like is out of the race. Jason Campbell has been playing well, but at the end of the day, he’s still Jason Campbell. Although they do hold the tie breaker over the Bills after beating them in Week 5, I don’t think it’s going to matter. 5-11. Sorry Cleveland.
So, we have traveled into the rabbit hole that is the AFC Wild Card hunt. If our beloved Buffalo Bills can buck the trend of stabbing us in the heart by losing winnable games, they aren’t out of it. The Bills have the easiest schedule of all of the other 9 teams. With this week off to rest, I hope the Bills can see that they aren’t out of it and come out of the bye week playing the kind of football we all know they can play. With a little help, the Bills can finally end their 14 year playoff drought.