Bills playoff chances: Will Buffalo make the playoffs in crowded AFC picture?

Everyone knew coming into the 2023 NFL season that winning in the AFC was going to be challenge. The conference featured most of the league’s top quarterbacks, the reigning Super Bowl champion and an array of perennial powerhouses.

The Bills checked off two of those boxes. Josh Allen ranks among the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Buffalo has won the AFC East each of the past three years and has at least one playoff win in each of those seasons.

But Buffalo has gotten off to a slow start to the campaign. The Bills began the year 4-2, but have gone 1-2 in their past three games, including losses to the Patriots and fellow struggling AFC contender Cincinnati, sandwiching a narrow win against the Buccaneers.

At 5-4, the Bills enter their “Monday Night Football” game with the Broncos on the outside-looking in of the playoff picture, sitting in the No. 9 spot in the race.

Reaching the playoffs this year won’t be easy. The Dolphins look loaded atop the AFC East, though they’ve struggled against top-tier competition. There are six other teams in the wild-card race that leave Week 10 with five wins, crowding the field.

MORE: Texans move into playoff spot with win over Cincinnati

Few will doubt that the Bills are capable of going on a run, but what do the odds say as Buffalo prepares for a pivotal stretch of the season? Here’s what you need to know.

Bills playoff chances

The Bills have taken a few hits. But don’t think they’re quite out of it just yet. A hectic weekend opened the door for more teams like the Texans and the Colts, but it also kept other contenders like the Bengals from adding any further space between them and Buffalo.

Per Sporting News’ model, the Bills enter the game against Denver holding a 48.8 percent chance to make the playoffs. That is a 17.4 percent chance as the winners of the AFC East and 31.4 percent coming out of a wild card spot. Buffalo’s current win-loss projection is 10-7.

That might not seem great, but in a crowded AFC playoff race, here’s a look at the playoff odds for the teams with at least a 40 percent chance of reaching and their current record:

Team Current record Playoff odds
Chiefs* 7-2 99.4%
Dolphins* 6-3 91.6%
Ravens* 7-3 90.5%
Jaguars* 6-3 84.3%
Browns 6-3 68.9%
Texans 5-4 62.3%
Steelers 6-3 50.9%
Bills 5-4 48.8%
Bengals 5-4 41.6%

* – Denotes division favorite

As things stand, the model has the Bills as just on the outside-looking-in for the final wild card. However, the Steelers are a virtual toss-up and while the Texans have favorable odds, they are still a team with plenty of questions despite a recent surge powered by C.J. Stroud.

The biggest thing working against the Bills right now is the head-to-head loss to the Bengals. Should those two end the season tied, Cincinnati would get the spot ahead of Buffalo because of the Week 9 “Sunday Night Football” win. However, the Bills will have a chance to put a full game between them and Cincinnati after the Bengals fell to Houston on Sunday.

And, of course, there’s still the matter of the AFC East. The Dolphins have yet to collect a win against a team with a winning record, and they will end the year with a home game against the Cowboys, a road game in Baltimore and a home game against the Bills. While the schedule is favorable until then, Buffalo still has a chance to stay in the divisional hunt and potentially catch up to Miami if the Dolphins struggle at any point in the coming weeks.

MORE: Updated MVP odds for Texans rookie C.J. Stroud

Bills remaining schedule

Part of the challenge for the Bills will be their remaining schedule. As a reward for finishing first in the AFC East in 2022, Buffalo got a first-place schedule in 2023. That adds to the fact all AFC East teams are facing the entire AFC West and NFC East, with Buffalo still having games against the Eagles, Chiefs and Cowboys left on the schedule.

Based purely on the model’s win probability in each game, the Bills would be expected to win four more games and drop four more, putting Buffalo at a 9-8 record to end the year. Could that get it done in a tight AFC playoff picture? There’s a chance, if the Bills can get tiebreakers to swing the right way, that it just might.

Week Opponent Bills win odds
10 vs. Broncos 73.9%
11 vs. Jets 78.3%
12 at Eagles 29.8%
14 at Chiefs 34.3%
15 vs. Cowboys 61.9%
16 at Chargers 45.5%
17 vs. Patriots 86.8%
18 at Dolphins 34.6%

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