The Bills and their fans get the holiday weekend off after Thursday’s thrilling victory in Dallas. The Bills are well-positioned to make the playoffs with their 9-3 record and four games left on the schedule.
It would be the second time in three years Buffalo has claimed a playoff spot. But there’s still a month’s worth of regular season football and more games to be won.
Already, the New York Times Playoff Simulator gives the Bills a 93 percent chance of making the postseason. The interactive simulator estimates the odds for each team by randomly simulating the remaining games in the league thousands of times and counting how often the Bills make the playoffs.
The simulator, which changes based on every game completed, gives the Bills a 39 percent chance of finishing the year with 11 wins and a 31 percent chance of finishing at 10-6.
There are games on Sunday’s Week 13 slate in the NFL that can impact Buffalo’s playoff prospects.
Here’s a look ahead at some of the games that have impact on the AFC playoff race:
SUNDAY, 1 PM
TITANS (6-5) AT COLTS (6-5) ON CBS
An important AFC South showdown between a couple of AFC playoff hopefuls. The Colts squeaked by Tennessee back in week two, 19-17 at Nashville.
If the Titans win, the NY Times playoff simulator enhances Buffalo’s playoff chances slightly, from 93 percent to 95-percent. If the Colts prevail, the Bills chances drop to 91 percent.
BROWNS (5-6) AT STEELERS (6-5) ON CBS
A rematch of the brawling, helmet-swinging, convincing Cleveland victory from two weeks ago. The Browns three-game win streak started with Buffalo and they’ve managed to keep themselves on the fringes of playoff contention. Pittsburgh’s won four of its’ last five to stay alive.
The NY Times simulator says the Bills would benefit from a Cleveland victory. Buffalo’s playoff chances go up slightly from 93 percent to 94 percent. A Pittsburgh win would diminish the Bills fortunes marginally; they’d have a 91 percent chance of making it.
49ERS (10-1) AT RAVENS (9-2) ON FOX
The league’s marquee matchup this week would have no impact of Buffalo’s playoff hopes, according to the NY Times simulator. No matter who wins, the Bills chances of making the postseason remain at 93 percent.
But this is a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII from seven years ago and a matchup of two of the league’s hottest teams. Baltimore has won five in a row, the Niners have won four of their last five.
More importantly, it gives Bills fans a chance to preview Buffalo’s next test — Lamar Jackson and the Ravens second-ranked offense. Jackson, the leader in the clubhouse for league MVP, presents unique challenges with his strong arm and athleticism.
SUNDAY, 4:25 PM
RAIDERS (6-5) AT CHIEFS (7-4) ON CBS
Another game with very little impact in Buffalo’s playoff chances. No matter who wins, the Bills playoff probability remains at 92-93 percent.
But the Chiefs remain a possible playoff opponent for Buffalo in the Wild Card Round. Some early scenarios have Buffalo travelling to Kansas City in the first round, making this game noteworthy for Bills fans.
SUNDAY, 8:20 PM
PATRIOTS (10-1) AT TEXANS (7-4) ON NBC
A New England win would marginally improve Buffalo’s playoff chances from 93 percent to 94 percent. A Houston win would make the Bills chances slightly worse.
But if you’re entertaining thoughts of the Bills winning the AFC East title, you need a Patriots loss and a month-long miracle.
Right now, the NY Times simulator gives Buffalo only a two percent chance of winning the division. Even if the Bills win out, and finish with 13 wins, they’ve got a 40 percent chance of taking the division crown.
It’s important to note that there’s still a good chunk of regular season football remaining. As the Times simulator notes:
“With 77 games remaining, there are about 151-sextillion different ways the NFL regular season could end.”
So maybe tapping the brakes is the wisest course of action for playoff-starved Bills fans this weekend. The most important thing the Bills can do in their remaining games is win, and not worry about what other teams are doing.