How the Buffalo Bills can still win the division

Posted on December 15, 2009 by Patrick Moran

So did you hear the one about the Buffalo Bills capturing the AFC East over the last three weeks and ending their playoff drought? Just like Lloyd Christmas famously muttered in Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.”  Hilarity ensues.

Comical… yes.  Practical.. uh, scarcely.  But by the time I finished playing mathematician, I’ve learned the Bills are still alive to win their division and reach the playoffs for the first time this decade.  Granted, Tiger Woods has a better chance of getting remarried with Jasper Parnevik serving as best man than seeing the Bills in the post season, but hey it’s still doable.

In the three-plus months Buffalo Sports Daily has been on the internet, I’ve possibly desecrated mine and your time more than any previous article (debatable of course).  The research was draining, nearly as arduous as watching 13 weeks’ worth of Buffalo offense.   Then again, what else do I have to do?”Listen to Skip Bayless get his universal hate on every team and athlete on an ESPN’s “First Take” telecast?

The following is what needs to occur for the Bills to be still playing football after January 3; The Buffalo Bills win out, while the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins lose out, and the New York Jets win no more than one of their last three games.

Sounds rather unfussy, doesn’t it? Well of course not, so let’s just into delve into how it could happen.

The Patriots are currently 8-5 so clearly the worse they could finish is 8-8.  If the Bills won out the best they could finish is 8-8.  If the Jets win just once they would join the two at 8-8. The Bills could afford to see the 7-6 Jets get one more win because New York would lose any divisional tiebreaker (more on why in a moment).

However, Miami is currently 7-6, but would win a divisional tiebreaker against any other team, making them need to lose their last three, which would end them at 7-9.

Let’s play eternal optimist and say the Bills and New England both finish 8-8 while Miami goes winless for the next three weeks. This is how the division ends up being won by Buffalo over the Pats.

♦ The first tiebreaker if two teams finished tied is head-to-head record. If Buffalo wins out they’d be 1-1 against each other.

♦ The second is best divisional record.  A Bills win Sunday would finish each team at 3-3, moving us on.

♦ Third is Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games. Each team plays the same divisional foes twice, so they would both be 3-3.   Here are the other teams both clubs played this year; Atlanta, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Carolina, Jacksonville and Houston.  Again, if the Bills win out and New England losses out both clubs would be 7-7 in common games.

♦ The next tiebreaker is conference record.  Buffalo could finish 5-7 in the conference by beating the Patriots and the Colts, while if New England drops their last three they’d also finish 5-7.

♦ This is where it gets very complicated and benefits the Bills. The next tiebreaker is “Strength of Victory”.  That’s defined as follows “If two teams end with identical records, combine the records of the opponents in each of the team’s wins and calculate the total winning percentage. The team whose opponents have the higher winning percentage wins the tiebreaker.”

Both teams have (or would have) defeated Tampa, New York, Carolina, Miami, Atlanta and each other.  Those games would cancel each other out.

If the Bills win out, the two teams they defeated that New England didn’t would be Kansas City and Indianapolis, while the Patriots uncommon victories would be Tennessee and Baltimore.

As of right now, Indianapolis (13) and Kansas City (3) have 16 wins, while Baltimore (7) and Tennessee (6) have 13.   Big advantage- Buffalo.

The Bills could also win a three-way tiebreaker with New England and New York.  The Jets would be eliminated on the second tiebreaker (divisional record) because they were swept by Miami and finished the division 2-4.  The Bills would then carry on against New England and come out on top via the previously mentioned strength of victory tiebreaker.

But just a single win by Miami eliminates Buffalo from division title contention.  The Bills split the series with the Dolphins and can’t win a tiebreaker because Miami won four divisional match ups and the Bills can only win three.

What’s Left?
Here are the remaining schedules for each team, with what has to happen.

Buffalo: New England, at Atlanta, Indianapolis

Chances: If they beat New England, they may get Atlanta on the road minus their stud quarterback (Matt Ryan) and running back (Michael Turner).  Perhaps the Colts have a loss on their record before the last week and don’t play Peyton Manning and company, which they certainly won’t if they’re not trying to cap off a perfect regular season.  Granted, the Bills have shown no reason for fans to show faith now, we’re just merely exploring the possibilities.

New England: at Buffalo, Jacksonville, at Houston

Chances: If the Bills were to upset New England, it’s conceivable they could lose out.  Houston is a dangerous opponent to play, especially on the road.  The Patriots have had trouble against powerful offenses and Houston certainly fits the bill.  However, Jacksonville would have to play a near perfect game to win on the road, particularly with how poor they’ve played of late.  Still, those last two games would be anything but gimmes.

NY Jets: Atlanta, at Indianapolis, Cincinnati

Chances: All three games are hard for a team without a steady quarterback. They should be able to handle Atlanta at home to get to eight wins, but as long as the Colts don’t rest their starters they should beat New York.  Cinci should have plenty to play for in week 17.

Miami: at Tennessee, Houston, Pittsburgh

Chances: The Dolphins are an enigma and so is each of their opponents.  They could just as easily go 3-0 over their last three as they could 0-3.

Yeah yeah yeah.  We all know all this won’t happen and no I’m not delusional.  Bored perhaps… but not delusional.  In the meantime, go Bills! (And Jacksonville, Houston, Pittsburgh, Houston, Tennessee as well as Atlanta and Indianapolis-except for when they play us).

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6 Comments on How the Buffalo Bills can still win the division

  1. AndyW

    Why would we want to do that ? We need high draft picks!

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  5. george

    lol why on earth did you waste your time conjuring up that dream scenario in your head?

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