The New England Patriots managed to defeat the Buffalo Bills 14-10 on Monday Night Football and remain in the top spot in the AFC. The Bills loss leaves them at 7-5 and in the 7th seed for the playoffs, thanks to their abysmal 5-5 AFC record. Fortunately, Buffalo can still turn things around and might even be able to vault into the top seed in the AFC with a little help from some other teams.

Buffalo Bills (7-5, 5-5 AFC) upcoming schedule

The Bills next five games are as follows:

  • @Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Carolina Panthers
  • @New England Patriots
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • New York Jets

If the Bills manage to win all 5 of their remaining games, they'd finish with a record of 12-5 and could potentially be in line for the top seed in the AFC.

Even with a loss to Tampa Bay, a victory over New England on the road could help Buffalo leapfrog New England. Thankfully, the Patriots have a week 1 loss to the Dolphins that could help Buffalo in a tiebreaker scenario.

How the Bills can get ahead of New England (9-4, 7-1 AFC)

New England's upcoming schedule is as follows:

  • @Indianapolis Colts
  • Buffalo Bills
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • @Miami Dolphins

The Patriots can secure the #1 seed in the AFC with wins over all of their remaining opponents. If New England slips up and loses, Buffalo will have a chance to overtake the top spot. A realistic scenario for Buffalo would be Patriots losses to the Colts and Bills, and the Bills would pass New England thanks to their better divisional record.

In this scenario, the Patriots would finish 11-7, and the Bills could pass them.

Even if New England only loses to Buffalo, the Bills would pass them with wins over all of their remaining opponents. The Bills might still not get the 1 seed in this scenario, thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Battle for the 1 seed vs the Kansas City Chiefs (8-4, 3-4 AFC)

The Bills do own the tiebreaker over Kansas City, but unfortunately, the Chiefs can now get the 1 seed with victories over their remaining opponents. The Chiefs schedule is as follows:

  • Las Vegas Raiders
  • @LA Chargers
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • @Cincinnati Bengals
  • @Denver Broncos

The Chiefs final five games are against teams currently in the playoff hunt, including one against a Chargers team that has already beaten them.

If the Bills win their remaining games and the Chiefs drop just one game, the Bills will pass them in the playoff picture, even if New England also finishes 12-5. The bigger threats for the 1 seed lie with the Titans and Ravens.

How Buffalo can pass the Tennessee Titans (8-4, 5-3 AFC)

The Titans had a huge lead on the 1 seed, but injuries have completely derailed their season. Still, the Titans have a chance to earn the 1 seed with wins in their remaining games. Tennessee's schedule is as follows:

  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • @Pittsburgh Steelers
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Miami Dolphins
  • @Houston Texans

Unfortunately, the Bills would need the Titans to lose at least two of these games to get to the 1 seed for the AFC playoffs.

The Titans don't have a tough remaining schedule, but they have had a tough time with injuries so that the Titans may drop 2 of their remaining games. This is crucial if Buffalo can claim the top spot in the AFC.

Beating out the Baltimore Ravens (8-4, 5-4 AFC)

If the Ravens win their remaining games, the Bills have no shot at passing them in the race for the first overall seed. Baltimore's remaining schedule is as follows:

  • @Cleveland Browns
  • Green Bay Packers
  • @Cincinnati Bengals
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Pittsburgh Steelers

The good news for Buffalo is that all of Baltimore's remaining opponents are in the playoff hunt. However, which teams the Ravens lose to is important. NFC victories over the Ravens would help the Bills less as the Ravens have a better AFC record than Buffalo.

If only the Green Bay Packers managed to beat the Ravens, there is no scenario in which Buffalo can pass them. In addition, even with a loss to one AFC team, the Ravens would win the tiebreaker over Buffalo thanks to their strength of victory numbers. Therefore, Buffalo would need the Ravens to drop at least two games for a chance to pass them.

It's a bit farfetched, but it is still possible for Buffalo to get the 1 seed and maintain homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. They'll need some help, and the Bills will hope to both defeat Tampa Bay and get some help from the rest of the league.