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Who To Root For

What Bills fans need to know about the 2020 AFC playoff race | Week 13


The Bills maintained their one-game lead in the AFC East with their victory over the Chargers, but the Dolphins kept pace against the Jets.

The playoff picture entering Week 13 remains similarly crowded, albeit with one tweak at the top: the Titans, with a victory over the Colts, took hold of the AFC South lead and bumped the Bills from the third to the fourth seed by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreaker.

So, what games should Bills fans keep an eye on? There are plenty. Here's a Week 13 viewing guide.

The AFC East

The Bills hold a one-game lead over the Dolphins, while the Patriots remain three games back with a win over the Cardinals last Sunday.

Cincinnati (2-8-1) at Miami (7-4) – 1 p.m. on CBS

The situation: The Dolphins host the Bengals, who lost a close contest to the Giants last week in their first game without rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. Brandon Allen is starting at quarterback in place of Burrow, who sustained a season-ending injury in Week 11.

What to root for: The Bengals (obviously). Besides, rooting for a quarterback named Allen should come naturally.

New England (5-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-8) – 4:25 p.m. on CBS

The situation: The Patriots' chances of climbing back into the division race diminish with each passing week, but their win over the Cardinals kept their hopes alive. They sit three games back from the Bills (and two from the Dolphins) with five weeks remaining.

What to root for: A Chargers victory would not only put the Patriots on the brink of elimination in the division race, but further diminish their outside shot at re-entering the wild card picture.

Chasing the top

The Bills can still earn a top-three seed, though they need help to do so. The three games featuring teams ahead of them in the AFC standings are …

Cleveland (8-3) at Tennessee (8-3) – 1 p.m. on CBS

The situation: There are three 8-3 teams in the AFC: the Bills, the Browns, and the Titans. One of them will lose here (barring a tie, of course). Tennessee is coming off a big victory over division rival Indianapolis while Cleveland took care of business last week against Jacksonville.

What to root for: This is one where either outcome could help the Bills depending on how the rest of the season plays out. Should the Bills remain on top of the AFC East, a Titans loss is the way to go. That would give the Bills a chance to jump ahead for the No. 3 seed among division leaders.

Denver (4-7) at Kansas City (10-1) – 8:20 p.m. on NBC

The situation: After starting an undrafted wide receiver under center last week, the Broncos should have their quarterbacks back for a primetime matchup with the Chiefs – currently the AFC West leader and No. 2 seed in the conference.

What to root for: Denver (again). The Broncos have come through for Bills fans already this season with their Week 6 victory at New England and their Week 11 win over Miami. A victory here would give the Bills a chance to make up ground on the Super Bowl champs.

Washington (4-7) at Pittsburgh (11-0) – Monday, 5 p.m. on FOX

The situation: The Steelers survived their delayed matchup with the Ravens on Wednesday to remain the NFL's lone perfect team. Their matchup with Washington will determine whether they keep that distinction entering their primetime visit to Buffalo in Week 14.

What to root for: The Bills need to make up a three-game deficit to catch the Steelers for positioning atop the AFC, but the looming head-to-head matchup paired with a difficult Steelers schedule makes it feasible. A Washington victory on Monday would be a great start.

The rest of the field

The Bills hope to fend off the Dolphins and win the AFC East for the first time since 1995. If not, they would find themselves in a wild card picture that currently features five teams (including Miami) battling for three spots: Cleveland (8-3), Indianapolis (7-4), Las Vegas (6-5), and Baltimore (6-5).

Indianapolis (7-4) at Houston (4-7) – 1 p.m. on CBS

The situation: The Colts lost their AFC South lead with the loss to the Titans last week but still hold a wild card berth entering Week 13. They visit a Texans team coming off a Thanksgiving victory over the Lions.

What to root for: A Texans victory, which would provide added cushion between the Bills and a top wild card contender.

Las Vegas (6-5) at New York Jets (0-11) – 1 p.m. on CBS

The situation: The Raiders lost ground last week with a lopsided loss to the Falcons. A visit to the winless Jets presents an opportunity for a rebound.

What to root for: Win No. 1 for the Jets, which could also tighten up the race for the No. 1 pick.

Dallas (3-8) at Baltimore (6-5) – Tuesday, 8:05 p.m. on FOX and NFL Network

The situation: The shorthanded Ravens lost to the Steelers Wednesday and remained on the outside looking in when it comes to the wild card race. Coach John Harbaugh has not yet announced whether quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed the game following a positive COVID test, will return against the Cowboys.

What to root for: Dallas, motivated by its own pursuit in the NFC East, to score an upset.

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