The Buffalo Bills come off their bye week right in the muck of things from a playoff perspective. They are only a game behind both the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, and have the opportunity to leap frog the Jets within the next week and a half.
With a 3-4 record and a struggling team dealing with hard times, the Bills do not look like the talented team we saw during their their 2-1 start to the year. Instead, injuries and poor play have seemed to stagnate any progress toward the playoff promise Rex Ryan proclaimed back in February.
Now in November, Ryan and the Bills could truly propel their playoff aspirations with an inspired month of play.
The Bills wrap up their divisional schedule this month by playing the Miami Dolphins, Jets and New England Patriots in that order. From there, they’ll also play the Kansas City Chiefs to close out November.
This all AFC stretch for the Bills is hugely important. At minimum, the team has to go .500 with a 2-2 record, but ideally 3-1 would have the Bills holding the sixth and final wildcard spot.
By going 3-1 the Bills would stand with a 6-5 record, but hold six AFC conference victories with only two remaining on the schedule. It’s conceivable with a muddled up middle pack of AFC teams fighting for the wildcard spot that a 10-6 or possibly 9-7 record could earn the final playoff berth.
A year ago the Baltimore Ravens won the last wildcard berth not only because of their 10-6 record, but also because they were holding tie breakers, namely their AFC conference win percentage, if they had somehow fallen to 9-7.
It’s a backdoor way of thinking, but those Ravens went 6-6 against the AFC conference. The Bills could have those six conference victories already in hand by the end of November and then face a floundering Houston Texans team before squaring off against the NFC East for three straight weeks. In fact, the Bills face only two teams that have a winning record (the Patriots & Jets) and cumulatively opponents carry a combined 28-30 (21-30 when you take out the Patriots) record.
The best way for the Bills to get into the playoffs is by going 7-2 down the stretch, which isn’t out the realm of possibility, and finish with a 10-6 overall record; but for tie breaking scenarios who you beat becomes more important.
This month will prove if the Bills have any shot at the playoffs, or that this team is no better than they have been the past 16 playoff-less years.