Bills playoff picture: Buffalo’s updated chances make 2023 NFL playoffs after Week 15 win over Cowboys

The Bills entered Week 15 facing a tough test against a Cowboys team in the running to be the NFC’s No. 1 seed. They passed it with flying colors.

Buffalo thrashed Dallas in a dominant display on Sunday. The Bills won 31-10 and held a red-hot Cowboys offense without a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter after the game had already been decided.

The Bills’ offense was powered by James Cook, who had a career day. The second-year back totaled 221 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in the romp and helped the Bills control the time of possession battle. They held the ball for 35:05 of the 60 minutes on Sunday.

The victory marked Buffalo’s third in their last four games and helped them to further bolster their chances to make the postseason. Still, they are in a crowd of four 8-6 AFC teams vying for a couple of playoff spots, so they have little room for error as they look to qualify for the postseason during the NFL stretch run.

MORE: Bills top Cowboys in impressive performance by James Cook

Here’s what to know about the Bills’ playoff chances after their monster win over the Cowboys in Week 15.

Bills playoff picture

The Bills are the No. 9 seed in the AFC after Week 15 with a record of 8-6. They are currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, but they continue to climb in the overall standings.

Buffalo entered the week in a six-way tie for sixth-place in the conference but now, they have the same record as just four wild-card teams. The Bengals, Colts and Texans all currently rank ahead of them because the Bills are behind in several tiebreaker categories, including a head-to-head one with the Bengals and their conference record of 4-5 against the marks of all three teams.

Still, the Bills have more than enough time to break the four-way tie in the final three weeks of the season. And if they keep winning, they will have a chance to leapfrog any team that unexpectedly drops a game.

At a minimum, winning out would guarantee that Buffalo can jump up to eighth place, as the Colts and Texans square off in Week 18. But in reality, the Bills would likely generate even more upward momentum if they can continue their winning streak.

Bills fans should be confident about that possibility after the team beat Dallas, one of the league’s best teams, by 21.

MORE: Updated NFL playoff picture for Week 15

Bills remaining schedule

Also aiding the Bills’ quest to make the playoffs is the team’s schedule to close the season. They are facing the seventh-easiest schedule over the final three weeks, according to Tankathon. Their opponents have a combined record of 18-24, good for a strength of schedule mark of .429.

Below is a look at the three games remaining on Buffalo’s schedule.

Week Opponent Record
16 at Chargers 5-9
17 vs. Patriots 3-11
18 at Dolphins 10-4

The Bills have just one matchup remaining against a team with a winning record. That’s their Week 18 meeting with the Dolphins.

Miami is currently 10-4 and leads the AFC East by two games, so the Dolphins might not have anything to play for in Week 18 — unless the No. 1 seed is still on the table for them. Of course, they might relish a chance to potentially knock the Bills out of postseason play, but that situation is something that the Bills will be monitoring.

Otherwise, playing Easton Stick and Bailey Zappe in consecutive weeks doesn’t seem too scary (though the Bills will be wary of being swept by the Patriots during the squad’s worst season under Bill Belichick).

MORE: NFL teams to clinch playoff spots thus far in 2023

Bills’ updated playoff chances

The Bills have a 42.3 percent chance to make the playoffs after their Week 15 game, according to Sporting News’ projection model for the NFL season. They are projected to have a record of 10-7 and retain a 19.5 percent chance of winning the AFC East.

Still, the Bills can’t afford any bumps in the road down the stretch. They’ll need to win their next couple of games against sub.-.500 teams to take control of their path to the postseason; and even then, they might have to knock off Miami in a rematch of a game that Buffalo won 48-20 earlier in the season.

But as it stands, the Bills are favored to emerge from the pack of 8-6 AFC teams to make the postseason. That’s music to the ears of Buffalo fans who wrote this team off after its midseason downturn.

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