Sitting 4th place in the AFC East with a record of 4-7, the playoffs would seemingly be a taboo subject for Buffalo Bills fans. However the 2013 season is anything but typical. There are currently six AFC teams tied at 5-6 in the standings, with another three just a game back at 4-7, all of which are vying for the final Wild Card spot (the first Wild Card is all but sure to be KC or Denver whom both currently sit at 9-2 in the AFC West). So despite a disappointing season thus far, the Bills are very much still alive in their quest to end the NFL’s longest active playoff draught.
First things first, the Bills will likely need to win all of their remaining games to finish the season at 9-7. Of the six teams at 5-6, it seems all but guaranteed that one of them will be able to put together a winning streak that will see them finish at least 8-8.
That starts this Sunday when the Bills face off against the struggling Falcons in a “home” game in Toronto. The Bills have struggled in Toronto in years past, and definitely lose some of the home field advantage that they get while playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills would then head to Tampa Bay to take on the currently 3-8 Buccaneers, whom have been improved as of late, but are still a 3-8 team. Should the Bills head to Tampa 5-7, anything but a win would be a monumental disappointment.
The schedule continues to smile upon the Bills in Week 15, as they are set to head to Jacksonville to take on the lowly Jaguars. The Jags currently sit a 2-9, and will be playing for nothing but pride when the Bills come to town. Week 16 sees AFC East rival and fellow Wild Card hopeful Miami come to Buffalo. If the Bills are able to string together wins in the previous three games and are sitting at 7-7, this game will be one of the biggest in recent Bills history. The Dolphins play pivotal games against the Jets, Steelers, and Patriots leading up to the Week 16 show down with the Bills, so this game could be huge for both teams.
Week 17 sees the Bills wrap up their season with a trip to New England to take on the Patriots. While a trip into Foxborough is never an easy task, it may be a blessing in disguise for the Bills that this season’s trip takes place in Week 17. If the Patriots are able to clinch a first round bye, as they are currently in position to do, the beat up Pats would likely give plenty of rest to their starters, increasing the chances of the Bills continuing this improbably hypothetical run.
Even if the Bills are able to run the table and finish the season at 9-7, they will need some help from various sources to ensure that any teams that they would lose a potential tie breaker to also don’t make it to 9-7. With 9 teams very much alive and in the hunt, it’s too early to break down each scenario to the point of knowing who to cheer for in the non-Bills games.
In the end, a playoff berth for the Bills still seems very unlikely, but given the nature of their remaining schedule and the wide open race for the final Wild Card spot, it certainly remains in the realm of possibility. Coming off of a bye week that has allowed the team to heal and refresh, the Bills could be poised for a little magic.