Yes folks, I am that crazy. Every year about this time, our Bills are somewhere near the .500 mark and visions of playoff dates dance in our heads. Well, in mine at least.
So I broke down the five contenders’ schedules today, and believe it or not, things are looking very promising for our Buffalo Bills!
First, let’s look at who is still in the race:
- New England: 12-0
- Indianapolis: 10-2
- Pittsburgh: 9-3
- Jacksonville: 8-4
- San Diego: 7-5
- Cleveland: 7-5
- Tennessee: 7-5
- Buffalo: 6-6
- Denver: 5-7
- Houston: 5-7
Wow! When you look at that list, what shot do the Bills have?? Assuming the Division winners are set (New England is, then Indy, Pittsburgh, and San Diego) that leaves the two wild card spots in contention for SIX teams! Ouch!
But let’s take a look at those six teams, and their schedules.
Denver & Houston
These two teams are at 5-7 and are going to need a LOT of help. Basically, I’m just being kind to their fans putting them on here. They would have to win out, and get some serious help from teams above them in order to make the playoffs. Let’s count them OUT.
That leaves four teams who are in the thick of the race. We’ll look at them one by one.
Let’s start from the top down.
Jacksonville beat the Bills so, they own the tie-breaker over us there. And, with a two-game lead, they are definitely in command for one of those two spots. Their remaining games include: Carolina, @ Pittsburgh, Oakland, and @ Houston. Three of those games could be tough, but I see the Jags winning three of those four. That would put them in the playoffs as the top wild card seed, finishing 11-5.
With Cleveland losing to Arizona yesterday, the Bills are in a much better position against this team. Even if the Browns win all of their games except the game against Buffalo, both teams could end up 10-6, with the Bills owning the tie-breaker having defeated them. That makes the game on Dec. 16th pretty crucial for both teams’ playoff hunt. Cleveland plays @ NY Jets, Buffalo, @ Cincinnati, and finishes at home against San Francisco. I see them winning at least two, maybe three of those, finishing 9-7 or 10-6. OUT of the playoffs.
Tennessee has been quietly efficient this year. Like everyone else, they have fought through injuries, suspensions, and other roster changes to be two games above .500. Vince Young can win a game at any time, and their defense plays tough, too. They have some pretty difficult games on their remaining schedule, however. They start this week at home against San Diego, then @ Kansas City, home vs. the NY Jets, then finish @ Indianapolis. It seems very likely that they will lose at least two of those, and I think they lose three. That makes then 8-8, and OUT of the playoffs.
That leaves the Bills. Our injury-riddled Bills who have been starting rookies and first-year players who have no NFL experience, and are at the bottom of the league statistically on both offense and defense… and yet, they are 6-6. And surprisingly, they Bills are in a pretty good spot. Their remaining schedule includes: home vs. Miami, @ Cleveland, NY Giants, then they finish @ Philadelphia.
Here’s the key. If the Bills win out, they will make the playoffs. Because winning out puts us at 10-6, AND includes beating Cleveland (who could then finish no better than 10-6) the Bills really “control their own destiny” as the saying goes. (Of course, Tennessee could disrupt that with a surprisingly good finish.)
So with that look at the schedules and the standings, and assuming the Bills can play smart, efficient, productive football for four straight games, the Bills look to be in pretty good shape for ending their playoff-less drought!
Every game counts, and the biggest one will be two weeks from now in Cleveland.