AFC Playoff Picture: Bills Face Do-or-Die Game in Miami This Weekend


With the Bills actually in the playoff chase this year, each week we’ll be breaking down the AFC playoff situation in a feature called AFC Playoff Picture.

I started this weekly feature because the Bills at the time were right at the lead of the playoff chase.

What a difference two weeks makes.

After two straight ugly, ugly losses, the Bills (5-4) face an absolute do-or-die game in Miami this weekend. I really can’t see the Bills recovering from 5-5, but 6-4 with at least four very winnable games (vs. Titans, @Chargers, vs. Dolphins, vs. Broncos) remaining? They’d have a real chance.

In other news: a whooping 12 of the 16 AFC teams are right in the thick of the playoff chase, with the entire AFC West still right in the fight for the division title (and the right to get blown out by Pittsburgh or Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs).

Let’s see how the field looks:

Playoff Locks: None

Contenders: Pittsburgh (7-3),  Houston (7-3), Baltimore (6-3), Cincinnati (6-3), New England (6-3), Buffalo (5-4), N.Y. Jets (5-4), Tennessee (5-4), Oakland (5-4), San Diego (4-5), Kansas City (4-5), Denver (4-5)

Baltimore (6-3) lost a chance to really pull away from the field after a baffling loss in Seattle. Fortunately for them, the Ravens’ remaining schedule is also not tough, with two games left against Cleveland and a game against Indy. But two games also remain against the surprising Bengals (6-3), so the Ravens are far from playoff safe. The Bengals lost in their first of four tests against the Ravens and Steelers, falling to Pittsburgh (7-3) at home Sunday. The Steelers have a much-needed bye this week, and then have a softish schedule the rest of the way. If there is one team I’m most sure will make the playoffs, it’s Pittsburgh.

New England (6-3) is also in great shape. The Pats really took control of the AFC East this weekend with a road win against the Jets. New England also has an absurdly easy schedule the rest of the way. The Pats have exactly one game left against a team that currently has a winning record – a Week 17 home contest against Buffalo. The Bills and Jets, both 5-4, face must win games this week. The Jets take on the Broncos tonight, while the Bills travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins. A loss for either team pretty much ends their playoff dreams. The teams then play each other the following week in the Meadowlands.

In the AFC South, Tennessee (5-4) stayed alive with a win at Carolina Sunday, staying just a game back in the loss column behind Houston (7-3). With Texans QB Matt Schaub battling an injury, this is still a race.

Meanwile, the AFC West is absolute disaster. Oakland (5-4) picked up an enormous win at San Diego (4-5) last Thursday to take control of the race for now. Meanwhile, the Broncos and Chiefs sit a game back at 4-5 as well. The Raiders could really put some distance between themselves and the field this week, as Oakland (@Vikings) has a much easier game this week than their division rivals, with the Broncos taking on the Jets, the Chiefs traveling to New England, and the Chargers playing the white-hot Bears in Chicago. Frankly, the Chiefs are only on this list because of their record….but they’re done.

On the Periphery: None

Not HappeningCleveland (3-6) , Jacksonville (3-6), Miami (2-7), Indianapolis (0-10)

Wow, the Browns suck. They’re just awful. And the less said about the Colts, the better. But watch out for the two Florida teams. Both have good-to-very good defenses and are still playing hard. Don’t be surprised to see both teams pick up a few wins down the stretch. Let’s hope the Bills aren’t one victim of the Dolphins in the second half.