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Who To Root For

What Bills fans need to know about the 2021 AFC playoff race | Week 13


Can't we all fast forward to Monday?

The stakes are high for the matchup between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. According to the New York Times playoff machine, a win for the Bills would give them – at worst – a 96-percent chance to make the playoffs and a 79-percent chance to win the AFC East.

But there are still rooting interests to be had in the meantime.

Here is a look at how Sunday's slate of games could impact the Bills.

Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) at Cincinnati (7-4) – 1 p.m. on CBS

The situation: This is a matchup between two teams that currently occupy wild card berths in the AFC. Cincinnati currently holds the fifth seed; Los Angeles holds the seventh by virtue of a tie breaker over AFC West rivals Denver and Las Vegas.

What to root for: According to The Times, this game alone has little bearing on the Bills' odds. If your sights are set on the No. 1 seed in the AFC, pull for the Chargers to give the Bills a chance to pull ahead of the Bengals toward the top of the conference standings.

Indianapolis (6-6) at Houston (2-9) – 1 p.m. on CBS

The situation: The Colts had a three-game winning streak snapped against the Buccaneers last week, keeping them on the outside looking in. They face a Texans team that has played improved football since the return of quarterback Tyrod Taylor, having upset the Titans two weeks ago.

What to root for: The Texans to pull off another upset and provide added cushion between the Bills and a wild-card contender.

Washington (5-6) at Las Vegas (6-5) – 4:05 p.m. on FOX

The situation: The Raiders revived their season with a win over the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. They can re-enter the playoff field with a win over Washington and help from the Bengals and Chiefs.

What to root for: The NFC team (Washington) to beat the AFC wild card contender (Las Vegas).

Baltimore (8-3) at Pittsburgh (5-5-1) – 4:25 p.m. on CBS

The situation: The Steelers' hopes are on life support after a lopsided loss to the Bengals, which dropped them to 0-2-1 in their last three games. The Ravens enter the week with the second-best odds at obtaining the No. 1 seed in the AFC at 23 percent, trailing the Patriots (25 percent).

What to root for: The Steelers to right the ship. A Bills win combined with a Ravens loss would put the Bills back into contention for a first-round bye with five weeks to play.

Denver (6-5) at Kansas City (7-4) – 8:20 p.m. on NBC

The situation: The Chiefs have reascended to the top of the AFC West after starting slow. But they only have a one-game lead on their three division opponents, including the Broncos.

What to root for: The Bills hold the tiebreaker over the Chiefs thanks to their head-to-head win in Week 5. A win for the Broncos would further increase the Bills' odds of finishing above the Chiefs should both teams win their respective divisions.

Best-case scenarios:

  • To obtain the No. 1 seed: Wins for Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Buffalo would increase the Bills' odds to about 25 percent.
  • To make the playoffs: Wins for Cincinnati, Houston, Washington, Baltimore, and Buffalo would increase the Bills' odds to about 98 percent.

Worst-case scenario:

  • Wins for Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, and New England would drop the Bills' playoff chances to a still-promising 75 percent.

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