So the Bills are 8-6. Now how do they end the 17-year playoff drought?
Good news, Bills fans. Your season will last into week 17 no matter what. Buffalo cannot be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, no matter who wins and loses next week.
Bad news, Bills fans. Odds are it still won't end with a postseason berth. The New York Times NFL Playoff Machine currently has Buffalo with a 39% chance of getting in.
But let's go back to the good news. This is Buffalo's best shot at the playoffs since 2004. This is happening during a season that was supposed to be just the beginning of "the process", which is likely code speak for a long rebuild.
Buffalo improved to 8-6 with a 24-16 win over Miami on Sunday. Combine that with a win by Baltimore in Cleveland and a loss by Tennessee in San Francisco, and we now have a three-way tie for the AFC's two wild card spots.
So what needs to happen for the Bills to get in?
Chances are Buffalo isn't going to beat New England in week 16. The Patriots have the inside track for home field advantage, and needs to beat the Bills to keep it that way. You never know what's going to happen, especially this year in the NFL, but let's be honest with ourselves and assume that the Bills lose to the Pats, but manage to win the finale in Miami, finishing the season at 9-7.
Baltimore needs to lose once. They finish the season with home games against the Colts and Bengals.
What about the Titans? This may be your best bet. Tennessee was 8-4 entering week 14, but losses in Arizona and now San Francisco have brought them crashing down to the rest of the pack. And Tennessee's final two games are daunting. Sure, they wrap up the season with a pair on their home field, but that pair is against the first place Rams and Jaguars. They could lose out, which would get them to 8-8.
Yay! That would mean the Bills are in right?
Hold on. Remember the Chargers
If Buffalo ends the year in a three-way tie at 9-7 with L.A. and Tennessee, they would have the inside track to get in.
But if the Titans lose out and the Chargers win out, then the Bills get into a head to head tie breaker with the Chargers. L.A. obliterated the Bills in the now infamous Nate Peterman five interception game a few weeks ago. They may not win a three-way tie breaker with the Bills, but if it boils down to a head to head tie breaker, the Bills would be out.
Don't even get me started on if all of the contenders somehow manage to finish 8-8.
But bottom line, there is a real shot for Buffalo to make the playoffs, and stop the longest post-season drought in major professional sports in its tracks. And that's a lot more than anybody expected fifteen weeks ago.