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Who To Root For

Who to root for | Where the Bills stand in the AFC Playoff Picture for Week 15 


The Buffalo Bills surged back into the AFC Playoff race with a 20-17 win over the Chiefs in Week 14.

While the Bills are still 11th in the AFC, they managed to make up ground on teams above them in the Wild Card picture based on losses by the Steelers, Texans and Colts. A push for the AFC East is also back in play after the Dolphins lost to the Titans and Buffalo is now just two games back of the division lead with four games remaining.

Here's who Bills fans should be rooting for in Week 15 to increase Buffalo's chances of making the playoffs using the New York Times Playoff Machine.

Where the Bills stand

*These odds have been update for 12/17 following the result's of Saturday's games.

Record: 7-6 (9th in AFC)

Chance of making the playoffs: 54%

Chance of making playoffs with win over the Cowboys: 71%

Chance of winning AFC East: 25%

Chance of winning AFC East with win over the Cowboys: 31%

AFC Playoff standings heading into Week 15

*Teams that played Saturday are in bold

  1. Baltimore Ravens (10-3)
  2. Miami Dolphins (9-4)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5)
  5. Cleveland Browns (8-5)
  6. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
  7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)

In the hunt:

  1. Houston Texans (7-6)
  2. Buffalo Bills (7-6)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
  4. Denver Broncos (7-7)

NFL Wild Card tiebreaker rules:

  • Head-to-head, if applicable.
  • Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  • Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  • Strength of victory in all games.

Week 15 Games to Watch | Saturday & Sunday games included

Vikings (7-6) at Bengals (7-6) | Saturday, Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. on NFL Network

Who to root for: Root for the Vikings

Why: The Bengals are one of two teams in the Wild Card hunt that own a direct head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills. The Vikings are one of the best road teams in the league this season, boasting a 5-2 record.

A Bills win + Bengals loss would move Buffalo ahead of Cincinnati in the standings. The Bills' playoff odds would increase to 71% in this scenario. If the Bengals win, the Bills' playoff odds would still remain strong at 64%, but Buffalo would still be behind Cincinnati going into Week 16.

12/17 update: The Bengals won 27-24 and are now the 6th seed in the AFC

Steelers (7-6) at Colts (7-6) | Saturday, Dec. 16 at 4:30 p.m. on NFL Network

Who to root for: Root for a TIE

Why: Of all the Week 15 games, this matchup is the toughest to argue rooting for/against either team. While a tie is unlikely, it's the ONLY way Buffalo can move ahead of BOTH teams in the standings in Week 15, should the Bills beat Dallas.

Because both the Steelers and Colts are 5-4 against AFC teams, the winner of this matchup will still hold a tiebreaker over the Bills. If we had to choose one team, root for the Steelers as they have a tougher schedule in the final three weeks.

In summary, the best result here would be a Buffalo win + a Steelers/Colts tie. The Bills would move ahead of both teams in the standings going into Week 16.

12/17 update: The Colts won 30-13 and are now the 7th seed in the AFC

Broncos (7-6) at Lions (9-4) | Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8:15 p.m. on NFL Network

Who to root for: Root for the Lions

Why: This one is more cut and dry. The Lions are 3-1 this year vs. the AFC and 4-2 at home. A Detroit win + a Bills win would mean Buffalo moves ahead of Denver in the AFC.

This scenario would increase the Bills' playoff odds to 68%.

The Bills can not move into a Wild Card spot this weekend IF the Broncos win, regardless of other results around the league.

12/17 update: The Broncos lost 42-17 and are now the 11th seed in the AFC

Texans (7-6) at Titans (5-8) | Sunday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. on CBS

Who to root for: Root for the Titans

Why: The Titans winning would be helpful for two reasons: It would drop the Texans to .500 and their conference record to 4-5 (same as the Bills).

A Titans win + Bills win would move Buffalo ahead of Houston in the AFC and increase their playoff odds to 69%.

Jets (5-8) at Dolphins (9-4) | Sunday Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. on CBS

Who to root for: Root for the Jets

Why: The Dolphins' surprising loss to the Titans on MNF reopened the door for the Bills to potentially win the AFC East. While the Bills still trail the Dolphins by two games in the division, a Bills win + Dolphins loss this week would close that gap to one game with three weeks remaining.

In this scenario, Buffalo's odds of winning the division would increase to 45%.

Worst Case Scenario (Updated 12/17)

Following Saturday's results... A Bills loss + Texans win + Dolphins win would drop the Bills back down to the 11th seed.

Buffalo's playoff odds would be 

Best Case Scenario (Updates 12/17)

Following Saturday's results... A Bills win + Texans loss + Dolphins loss would bring Buffalo to the 8th seed in the AFC and a 73% chance of making the playoffs.

In this scenario, Buffalo would also have a 46% chance to win the division.

Scroll to see photos from the Buffalo Bills Week 15 practice as the team prepares to take on the Dallas Cowboys.

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