Who To Root For

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What Bills fans need to know about the 2020 AFC playoff race | Week 12

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The Bills come out of the bye week amid a crowded AFC playoff picture. Plenty of outcomes are still on the table.

Buffalo holds a one-game lead over Miami in the AFC East and sits third overall in the conference. The top two seeds remain within reach, though time is running short. Meanwhile, there are several teams nipping on the Bills' heels in the expanded seven-team field.

Here are games to keep an eye on in Week 12 and what to root for.

The AFC East

Miami (6-4) at New York Jets (0-10); 1 pm on CBS

The situation: This is the big one, as the Dolphins currently represent the biggest threat to the Bills winning their first AFC East title since 1995. The Bills have a one-game lead thanks to the Dolphins' loss to Denver during the bye week and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker on the strength of their victory back in Week 3. The two teams are scheduled to meet again in Week 17.

What to root for: An upset. The Jets are winless, and the Dolphins were one of the league's hottest teams prior to the mishap against the Broncos – a game they could have won if not for a late interception thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Here's to hoping the Jets are due.

Arizona (6-4) at New England (4-6); 1 pm on FOX

The situation: The Patriots' chances of claiming the division they have dominated for two decades continued to diminish with last week's loss in Houston, though Bills fans know better than to count out a Bill Belichick team too early.

What to root for: A win for the Cardinals – as hard as that may be so soon after the Hail Murray game. A loss would guarantee the Patriots remain at least three games back from the Bills with five weeks to go.

Top of the conference

Baltimore (6-4) at Pittsburgh (10-0); Tuesday, 8 pm on NBC

The situation: This game is still set to be played after being rescheduled from Thanksgiving night due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Ravens locker room. If they do play, the Ravens figure to be shorthanded with quarterback Lamar Jackson reportedly among those who have tested positive.

What to root for: Both outcomes could help the Bills in different ways. The Steelers currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC, meaning a loss could allow the Bills to pull within two games of them with a head-to-head matchup on the docket for Week 14. The Ravens, meanwhile, are part of the crowded field jostling for the three available wild card spots. A loss would drop them to the back end of that pack.

Kansas City (9-1) at Tampa Bay (7-4); 4:25 pm on CBS

The situation: The Chiefs cut it close against the Raiders on Sunday night last week, ultimately prevailing with a game-winning drive engineered by Patrick Mahomes. They face a Buccaneers team coming off losses in two of its past three games.

What to root for: Tom Brady. The Bills need some help if they're going to surpass the Chiefs for the first or second seeds in the AFC, particularly with the Chiefs holding the head-to-head tie-breaker. Some help from their old nemesis in the form of a Buccaneers victory would be a good start.

The rest of the field

Cleveland (7-3) at Jacksonville (1-9); 1 pm on CBS

The situation: The Browns and Bills are two of four 7-3 teams in the AFC entering Week 12, along with the Titans and Colts. The Browns sit three games back from the Steelers in the AFC North, meaning their most likely path to the playoffs is a wild card berth.

What to root for: A victory for the Jaguars, which would hand the Browns a conference loss that could prove important in a tie-breaker scenarios should the Bills find themselves in the wild card race down the line.

Tennessee (7-3) at Indianapolis (7-3); 1 pm on CBS

The situation: This is a battle for the top spot in the AFC South. The Colts took the prior matchup in Tennessee back in Week 10.

What to root for: Though either outcome could end up helping the Bills down the line, a Titans loss would be the best-case scenario in the here and now. The Titans hold the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Bills by virtue of their Week 5 victory. A Colts victory would keep them atop the AFC South and – if the Bills hold up their end of the bargain against the Chargers – in the fourth seed behind the Bills, who hold the tiebreaker based on division records.

Las Vegas (6-4) at Atlanta (3-7); 1 pm on CBS

The situation: The Raiders would be in that 7-3 picture if not for the close loss to the Chiefs. Quarterback Derek Carr looked great despite the result and the Raiders had won their last three games prior, putting them in good position to bounce back against a Falcons team that has struggled.

What to root for: Las Vegas, like Cleveland, has its playoff hopes likely rooted in the wild card race. The Bills hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Raiders, giving them some leverage if they end up in that mix. That said, when an AFC team in the race faces an NFC team, you root for the NFC team every time.

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