Despite their 9-3 record and strong standing in the NFL playoff picture, the Bills are not generating the same level of national hype that surrounds their Week 14 opponent. The 10-2 Ravens, after all, are the hottest (and arguably best) team in the NFL, and Baltimore simply needs to beat Buffalo on the road Sunday to clinch its spot in the postseason.
Yet, if Buffalo pulls off an upset this week as a six-point home underdog, there is one Week 14 playoff clinching scenario in which the Bills — not the Ravens or the Chiefs or the Patriots — would become the first AFC team to reach the postseason.
If the Bills beat the Ravens, they then would need some help from the Raiders, Texans and Colts in the form of losses or ties. Below is the scenario in which Buffalo would clinch a playoff berth in Week 14:
Bills beat Ravens AND
Raiders lose or tie against Titans AND
Texans lose or tie against Broncos AND
Colts lose or tie against Buccaneers
For what it's worth, the Colts and Raiders are three-point underdogs in their respective games, with Indianapolis playing at Tampa Bay and Oakland playing at home against Tennessee. The Texans are 9 1/2-point home favorites over the Broncos, but as we noted in our Week 14 NFL picks and predictions, that game could be a trap for Houston.
If the Bills beat the Ravens, their clinching scenario for a playoff berth in Week 14 would become more likely than that of Baltimore, which would need a Raiders-Titans tie specifically in addition to a Texans loss and a Colts loss or tie.
The other AFC teams that have chances to clinch playoff berths this week, the Patriots and Chiefs, play each other in the late Sunday afternoon window after the Bills and Ravens play early. While New England technically can clinch a playoff spot before it even plays (Texans loss AND Colts loss or tie AND Raiders-Titans tie), it also would need that unlikely Oakland-Tennessee tie.
Though the Bills would lose their shot at clinching a playoff berth in Week 14 with a loss to the Ravens, they would maintain at minimum a full game advantage in the wild-card race. If that happens, they might as well pull for the Raiders to beat the Titans and knock Tennessee back a game. The other 7-5 wild-card team, the Steelers, will play in Arizona this week.
Below is the full AFC playoff picture going into Week 14.
In the hunt: Titans (7-5), Raiders (6-6), Colts (6-6), Browns (5-7)
This clinching scenario for the Bills in Week 14 is unlikely, of course, but it's possible. SN picked the Ravens to beat the Bills this week in both our picks against the spread and our picks straight up for Week 14.
Yet we figured the Cowboys would beat the Bills on Thanksgiving, too. Don't be completely surprised if the NFL's quietest playoff contender makes the loudest statement this week.