Breaking Down the Buffalo Bills’ Playoff Odds: AFC East Picture After Miami, Buffalo Win

Breaking Down the Buffalo Bills’ Playoff Odds: AFC East Picture After Miami, Buffalo Win article feature image

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There’s always that team no one wants to play if they sneak into the playoffs. In the AFC, that team’s the Buffalo Bills.

Josh Allen and company have won two straight against the NFL’s elite, pulling out a dramatic 20-17 win over the Chiefs before blowing out the Cowboys 31-10 on Sunday. They’re now 8-6 on the year and in a four-way tie with the Bengals, Colts and Texans for the final two wild card spots.  They’re also one game behind the 9-5 Browns, who occupy the first slot.

All things being even, the Bills should have been in a more secure spot as we head into the home stretch, seeing as they've been incredibly unlucky. In fact, they're the third-most unlucky team in the league per our rankings and rate incredibly high according to advanced metrics like DVOA and EPA/play. According to our Predictive Analytics team, they should be 10-4 instead of 8-6, which suggests they’re perhaps the best team on the outside looking in at the moment.

Fortunately, the Bills have a relatively simple schedule to close out the year. First up is a pair of cupcake games against the 5-9 Chargers and 3-11 Patriots. They’re already two-touchdown favorites over a Bolts team that cleaned house after their humiliating 63-21 loss to the Raiders. Easton Stick makes his second-straight start, and he'll likely have nightmares after watching how Buffalo battered Dak Prescott in this week's dominating defensive performance.

Then, Buffalo faces off against Miami in what could end up becoming a winner-take-all Week 18 battle for the AFC East.

With these factors in mind, the Bills are -200 to make the playoffs at FanDuel, despite the fact that the Wild Card is only in moderate contention should the Bills lose to the Dolphins in Week 18. For this reason, among others, our Predictive Analytics team regards the Bills with lower odds to make the playoffs at -162, the seventh-best odds in the conference, just enough to sneak in. That slots the Bills behind the Dolphins (-9900), Chiefs (-9900), Ravens (already clinched), Browns (-733), Jaguars (-284) and Colts (-244).

The Texans at -127 and the Bengals at +233 loom behind.

But oddsmakers are so bullish that the Bills have a run in them that they dropped the division-leading Dolphins from -400 to -280 despite manhandling the Jets, 30-0. Conversely, Buffalo’s odds improved from +300 to +220 at FanDuel. That line was as high as +500 after losing to the Eagles in late November.

Of course, dismantling the Cowboys had a lot to do with that. But another big factor? The fact that Buffalo has the seventh-easiest schedule remaining (.429) while the Dolphins have far-and-away the hardest (.683). Miami faces the Cowboys and Ravens before closing out the season against the Bills.

Buffalo already owns the tiebreaker between the teams thanks to a 48-20 win back in Week 4. All things equal, the Bills would have a roughly 52% of sneaking into the playoffs despite losing to Miami in the final week — odds of about -108. But it would put their fate in the hands of the Browns, Jaguars, Texans, Colts and Bengals, something Bills fans are all too accustomed to — and would love to avoid.

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