Bills playoff picture: Buffalo’s updated AFC East, wild-card chances to make 2023 NFL playoffs

The Bills have made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons and five in the previous six under coach Sean McDermott. Now Buffalo is in trouble not only to see its three-year reign in the AFC East end, but also not even qualify as a wild-card team after the 2023 regular season.

At 7-6, the Bills are a game above .500 following after upsetting the Chiefs in Kansas City in Week 14 after the Week 13 bye. From here, they can still crumble down the stretch or stay hot to finish strong and take back the division from the Dolphins. Either outcome is possible, given their Josh Allen-led talent and Josh Allen-led issues.

Here’s looking at where Buffalo stands now and what it will likely need to do going forward to make the AFC playoffs again as at least a No. 7 seed.

Bills playoff picture

First, in the AFC East, Bills trail the 9-4 Dolphins by two games. For them to win the division again, they will need to make up one game by Week 17 and then beat the Dolphins a second time (they already did once in Week 4) when the teams meet again in Miami in Week 18.

The wild card is more within reach at the moment. The Bills are ranked No. 11 in the AFC, however. The Browns (8-5) have a better record and for now fill the No. 5 seed as the top wild-card. Next, based on conference-record tiebreakers, the Steelers (7-6) and Colts (7-6) fill the No. 6 and No. 7 spots, despite both losing in Week 14.

Beyond that trio, the No. 8 Texans (7-6) are also even with Bills. The No. 9 Broncos (7-6) beat the Bills and so did the No. 10 Bengals (7-6). That’s a big crowd to still overcome in only four more weeks of action, both ahead of the Bills and with the same record as them.

Bills remaining schedule

The Bills have one of the toughest closing slates in the NFL. They face two more teams with winning records and all their opponents having a combined winning percentage of .519.

The hardest game left is Week 15 vs. Dallas. The easiest by far is the rematch with New England in Week 17, but that team beat Buffalo the first time. Although winning two more games and getting to 9-8 seems reasonable, it likely will take 10 or more to qualify given 11 AFC teams already have 7-plus wins.

That means the Bills must take care of business vs. the Chargers and Patriots and also take two out of three from the Chiefs, Cowboys and Dolphins — no easy task.

Week Opponent Record
15 vs. Cowboys 10-3
16 at Chargers 5-8
17 vs. Patriots 3-10
18 at Dolphins 9-4

Bills’ updated playoff chances

The Bills need to go 3-1 to have a real chance. They are pretty much out should they go 2-2 and can improve to only one game above .500.

Beating the Chiefs was a first big step to get on track after the devastating loss to the Eagles before the bye. Their playoff chances were looking bleak before the results of Week 14, but now they’ve gone from highly unlikely likely to a better than 50 percent chance with the division in reasonable reach on top of the wild card. They just need to 2-1 before facing the Dolphins again in the season finale to have a great shot.

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