AFC East Playoff Scenarios & Projections: Bills Clinch AFC East, No. 3 Seed; Patriots Will Be No. 5 or No. 6

AFC East Playoff Scenarios & Projections: Bills Clinch AFC East, No. 3 Seed; Patriots Will Be No. 5 or No. 6 article feature image
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Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Allen, Kyle Van Noy

Sunday Evening Update

The Bills have locked in the 3-seed in the AFC and will face either the Chargers or Patriots in the Wild Card Round.

Buffalo (11-6) has some of the most confusing results out of any Super Bowl contender, with losses to the Jaguars and Steelers to go along with a 41-15 drubbing at the hands of the Colts.

Frankly, the Bills have looked bad at various points this season.

But the advanced statistics have a pretty clear counter — the Bills are one of the best teams in football.

That may not be very convincing to the casual viewer, but the numbers are clear.

The Bills are the No. 3 team in Football Outsiders’ overall DVOA. They’re the No. 4 team in total Expected Points Added (EPA). They have the No. 2 (DVOA) and No. 3 (EPA per play) defense in football.

And despite their minor foibles offensively, Buffalo is ranked No. 4 (EPA) and No. 8 (DVOA) on that side of the ball.

There’s a reason they’re the third-biggest favorites to win the Super Bowl at most sportsbooks.


The New England Patriots won 17 of the last 19 AFC East division titles before the Buffalo Bills took over in 2020. Entering Week 18, the Bills are in a position to go back-to-back.

The Bills and Patriots each have a chance to clinch the division in the final week of the regular season.

The Bills were supposed to be in this position entering the year. The Patriots were not. Having drafted Mac Jones in the first round of the NFL Draft, it was expected there would be a transition period in New England. Instead, Jones is squarely in the Rookie of the Year conversation and the Patriots are in the playoffs.

Still, it’s Buffalo controlling its own destiny in Week 18.

For the Bills to win the AFC East, they have to beat the New York Jets. Buffalo is a 16-point favorite. The Action Network’s Travis Reed’s simulations give the Bills a 93% projection of winning the AFC East. Even if the Bills lose to the Jets, they are still the division champions with a New England loss or if both the Bills and Pats tie.

The Patriots win the AFC East with a win and Bills loss or tie. 

Reed gives the Patriots a 7% chance of winning the division.

New England is likely headed for the No. 5 seed (73% chance, per Reed) with the Bills seemingly set for the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, especially if the Chiefs beat the Broncos on Saturday.

The Patriots are 6.5-point favorites on the road against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

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