There are now just four teams that the Buffalo Bills can potentially host to open up this year’s NFL playoffs next weekend.
The Kansas City Chiefs clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs by beating the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday afternoon, and the Jacksonville Jaguars clinched the No. 4 seed — and the AFC South — by defeating the Tennessee Titans.
The Chiefs’ victory means that the Buffalo Bills can now only end up securing the No. 2 seed or the No. 3 seed, and the Jaguars’ victory means that they are obviously no longer in contention to secure the No. 7 seed.
As a result, the Bills have locked themselves into a Wild Card round game next weekend, either on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.
There are just four teams who can come to Highmark Stadium to open up the playoffs against the Bills.
Those teams are the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Baltimore Ravens. The four Week 18 games involving these teams can all play a role in who Buffalo’s Wild Card opponent ends up being. Excluding ties, there are 16 different scenarios which could play out on Sunday afternoon.
Here’s how each team could end up booking a trip to Orchard Park.
NOTE: Percentages are based on individual game win projections at FiveThirtyEight.
Miami Dolphins (31.54%)
If both the Bills and Dolphins win on Sunday, they would be set to face off in the No. 2 seed vs. No. 7 seed matchup.
Pittsburgh Steelers (27.79%)
If both the Bills and Steelers win and the Dolphins lose on Sunday, the Bills and Steelers would be set to face off in the No. 2 seed vs. No. 7 seed matchup.
New England Patriots (26.73%)
If both the Patriots and Ravens win on Sunday OR if the Bills win and both the Dolphins and Steelers lose, the Bills and Patriots would be set to face off in the No. 2 seed vs. No. 7 seed matchup.
Baltimore Ravens (13.94%)
If both the Bills and Ravens lose on Sunday, they would be set to face off in the No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed matchup.
This scenario would also get the Patriots into the playoffs, giving them a 40.67% overall chance to clinch, and they would take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the No. 2 seed vs. No. 7 seed matchup.
Los Angeles Chargers?
The Los Angeles Chargers can also finish in the No. 6 seed, though they can’t play Buffalo in the Wild Card round (even though Buffalo can end up at No. 3).
The reason why this Wild Card matchup is impossible is because of the fact that the only way the Bills drop to the No. 3 seed is by losing to the Patriots and having the Bengals beat the Ravens.
And if the Bengals beat the Ravens, the Chargers clinch the No. 5 seed and the Ravens clinch the No. 6 seed no matter what else happens.
This is also the reason why the Chargers vs. Denver Broncos game doesn’t have any impact on who the Bills play next weekend.