What Bills fans need to know about the AFC playoff race | Week 14

Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (27) causes fumble Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins, October 20, 2019 at New Era Field. Photo by Sara Schmidle
Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (27) causes fumble Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins, October 20, 2019 at New Era Field. Photo by Sara Schmidle

Week 14 is here, which means we are in the final month of the regular season. December also brings about a slew of scenarios in which teams can clinch the playoffs. Yes, some may be off the wall, but, here in Buffalo, we all know crazier things have happened.

The Bills host the Ravens on Sunday who have currently won their last eight games and sit at a six point favorite. Buffalo is riding a three-game win streak for the second time this season. These two teams are the only in the NFL to have three 400-yard rushers. Quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen combine for 1,407 rushing yards—the first time in NFL history that two opposing QBs will meet and combine for such yards. We are looking at the new wave of NFL QBs in this matchup. The game will also feature two top ten defenses as the Bills are No. 3 and the Ravens No. 9.

All this combined has the makings of a great game. On top of that, both teams are playing to punch their ticket to the playoffs in Week 14. A win against the Bills would mean the Ravens are heading to the postseason. For Buffalo, it's not as simple. This time, we don't need Andy Dalton's help, at least for now. To earn a spot, the Bills need to beat the Ravens, Oakland needs to lose or tie to Tennessee, Houston must suffer a loss to Denver and Indianapolis must take the L or tie to Tampa Bay. So, let's break it all down.

Table inside Article
AFC Teams Overall record (conference record)
1. Baltimore Ravens 10-2 (6-2)
2. New England Patriots 10-2 (6-2)
3. Houston Texans 8-4 (7-2)
4. Kansas City Chiefs 8-4 (6-3)
5. Buffalo Bills 9-3 (6-2)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5 (6-3)
7. Tennessee Titans 7-5 (5-4)
8. Oakland Raiders 6-6 (4-4)

TITANS (7-5, 3-3 Away) at RAIDERS (6-6, 5-1 Home) 4:25 PM ET on CBS

Best scenario for the Bills = Oakland to lose or tie.

3 reasons for optimism on why Tennessee can beat Oakland

1. The Oakland Raiders are pretty good at home - their lone home loss came at the hands of the AFC West-leading Chiefs . But, the Raiders have struggled as of late, losing the last two games to the Jets and the Chiefs. Tennessee comes into this game as a two-and-a-half point favorite. So, far it's looking good for the Titans and the Bills.

2. Let's talk about the Tennessee Titans, or should I say Tannehill Titans. Yes, they are 3-3 on the road but they have a three-game win streak going. Over the last three games Tennessee has racked up 108 points. Since Week 7, the Titans have the second highest scoring offense in the NFL totaling 178 points. The Raiders have the 20th ranked defense and allow an average of 27 points per game. My crystal ball is telling me we will see a healthy dose of Titans touchdowns in this game.

3. When it comes to offensive yards, Oakland averages more yards per game than Tennessee at 345.8, but the Titans score more points per game than the Raiders with 23. Titans running back Derrick Henry will be a huge asset against a Raiders rushing defense who only allows 103.6 rushing yards per game. In the last three games, Henry is averaging 165.3 rushing yards per game and has scored five touchdowns.

1 guess on how the game plays out

The Titans are too hot right now to be stopped by a Raiders team who has lost four of the last seven games.

BRONCOS (4-8, 1-5 Away) at TEXANS (8-4, 5-1 Home) 1:00 PM ET on CBS

Best scenario for the Bills = a Houston loss

3 reasons for optimism on why Denver can beat Houston

1. With Houston as a nine-point favorite as well as coming off a convincing win over the Patriots, it will be a tough test for the Broncos. But Denver has a young quarterback that's giving them new life. Drew Lock could be the answer for this group. The way his teammates were applauding him after his first NFL game, he looks to be the guy the Broncos can rally around. In last week's win against the Chargers, Lock completed 64.3% of his passes and threw for two touchdowns.

2. The Texans have a top 10 offense, but their defense is ranked 27th. If the Broncos 11th ranked defense can hold off Houston's high-powered offense, Denver might be able to depend on a few touchdowns from Courtland Sutton who is 94 receiving yards away from 1,000 on the season.

3. Houston posted only 52 rushing yards against the Patriots last week. If Von Miller and company can hold the Texans to a number similar to that, we could see less than their average 24.4 points per game. Hopefully Houston won't have too many trick plays up their sleeve for Denver.

1 guess on how the game plays out

I'm not going to lie, but the Broncos are going to have to play a near perfect game to beat the Texans. Drew Lock, can you win for the second week in a row?

COLTS (6-6, 2-3 Away) at BUCCANEERS (5-7, 1-4 Home) 1:00 PM ET on CBS

Best scenario for the Bills = A Colts to loss or tie.

3 reasons for optimism on why Tampa Bay can beat Indianapolis

1. Two words. Jameis Winston. He has arrived. But has he? He needs to be on point if Tampa Bay is going to get the dub. The Bucs are favored by three points and the game is in Tampa. The Buccaneers have won the last two games against the Falcons and Jaguars. Over the last four games, Winston has thrown for the second-most passing yards in the NFL with 1,252. He's averaging 313 passing yards per game over that span. The Colts have the 12th ranked passing defense, but if Winston comes into this game hot, scoring won't be an issue.

2. The Colts have lost the last two games and have dropped four of the last five games. They have only put 17 points on the board in each contest. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett's passer ratings over the last three weeks have been some of the lowest of the year for him — 76.4, 76 and 74.9. The Buccaneers currently have the fifth-ranked offense and average 28.3 points per game. Indianapolis' offensive threat T.Y. Hilton has been ruled out again for Sunday. Without Hilton, points for the Colts could be hard to come by.

3. Another storyline to note is Indianapolis' kicking game. Starter Adam Vinatieri has struggled this season making only 68% of his field goals. Vinatieri has also been on the injury report this week with a knee issue. He has been ruled out for Sunday, so the Colts claimed kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers on Wednesday from the 49ers. He has made 13 of 17 field goals so far this season and all his extra points, but can he solid as he continues to float to different NFL teams?

1 guess on how the game plays out

Yes, Tampa Bay is a sad 1-4 at home, but Jameis has been hot lately. You never know when he can throw an interception, but I see him having a successful day in the air to get his team closer to .500.

CHIEFS (8-4, 5-1 Away) at PATRIOTS (10-2, 5-0 Home) 4:25 PM ET on CBS

Best scenario for the Bills = A Patriots loss

Bills don't need anything from this game in order to make the playoffs, but this could play into clinching in the weeks ahead.

3 reasons for optimism on why Kansas City can beat New England

1. The Patriots need to win in order to clinch a playoff spot in Week 14. Oh, by the way, they have won 18 straight games in Foxboro. New England is a three-point favorite in this one and the Pats are coming off of a tough loss to the Texans. After their second loss of the season, Kansas City can expect to see an angry and motivated Patriots team. The Patriots have the second-best defense in the NFL and have held two teams scoreless this season.

2. New England's injury report ahead of Sunday's game may raise some eyebrows. Friday's injury report listed WR Julian Edelman, WR Mohamed Sanu and CB Jason McCourty as questionable for the game. If any of these players can't play come Sunday, that may just be the edge that Kansas City needs to be successful.

3. In the last two weeks, Kansas City's defense has allowed an average of 13 points per game and forced seven turnovers. In the last three games, the Patriots have scored an average of 18 points per game. Andy Reid's Chiefs teams have averaged 32 points per game in Foxboro, which is not an easy feat. In Patrick Mahomes' two games on the road against the Pats he has averaged 323 passing yards per game and has thrown for seven touchdowns along with only two interceptions.

1 guess on how the game plays out

If Kansas City's defense can remain strong, while their offense moves the chains, we may see the Patriots suffer their first loss at home in 18 games. New England does boast a +18 turnover differential, so there is no room for error. The two losses the Patriots have this season have been against two young quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. They welcome another young QB in Patrick Mahomes on Sunday.

Alright, let's sum it all up. The Ravens and Patriots just need to win to clinch a playoff spot this weekend. For the Bills, it's a little tougher. What starts it all is a Bills win. If anyone can dial up a great defensive game plan and have his team execute, it's Leslie Frazier. For the three other things that need to happen —Raiders loss or tie, Texans loss, Colts loss or tie—it's definitely possible. I just spent this article trying to convince you it can happen. It's a week-to-week league where anything is possible. We will watch it all unfold on Sunday.

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