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It doesn't feel long ago that the Buffalo Bills were 5-5, and coming off disappointing losses to the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos. It led to the ousting of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey -- a move many believed was made out of desperation.

Since that embarrassing loss to Denver, the Bills have gone 3-1 to improve to 8-6, and not only are right back in the thick of the AFC wild card race, but the AFC East race as well. After Buffalo's dominant 31-10 victory over Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, many now view this team as one of the best in the AFC. They could be hitting their groove at the right time, but do they control their own destiny?

Below, we will take a look at Buffalo's path to the playoffs. The current playoff picture, the Bills' remaining schedule, Buffalo's odds to make the playoffs, win the AFC East and more. 

Simulations courtesy of SportsLine

Current playoff picture

1. Baltimore Ravens (11-3) (Clinched playoff spot)
2. Miami Dolphins (10-4)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6)
5. Cleveland Browns (9-5)
6. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
8. Houston Texans (8-6)
9. Buffalo Bills (8-6)
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
11. Denver Broncos (7-7)
12. Las Vegas Raiders (6-8)
13. Los Angeles Chargers (5-9)

Bills' postseason odds


Bills to make postseason


Bills to win division


Bills' projected win total


Bills' remaining schedule


at Chargers

BUF -12.5

vs. Patriots

BUF -13.5

at Dolphins


As indicated by our SportsLine consensus odds, the Bills have a pretty favorable schedule to end the year. They are listed as double-digit favorites against the Chargers and Patriots. Los Angeles is coming off a 63-21 loss to the Raiders, and it appeared the team gave up on Brandon Staley. The next morning, Staley and GM Tom Telesco were fired. The Chargers also don't have star quarterback Justin Herbert, who was shut down for the year with a finger injury. Easton Stick is the new quarterback, and he completed 23 of 32 passes for 257 yards, three touchdowns and one interception vs. Las Vegas. His box score looks nice, but consider all three passing touchdowns came in garbage time, and he lost two fumbles plus a pick-six. 

The Chargers are not very good. They are 1-5 over their last six games after starting the year 4-4, and the offense hasn't scored a first-half touchdown since Nov. 19. I didn't make Buffalo covering 12 points a "best bet," but the Bills dropping this game straight-up would be one of the biggest upsets of the entire season. 

Unlike the Chargers, the Patriots have already been eliminated from playoff contention. The 2023 campaign has been a season from hell for New England, as the Patriots' 3-11 start is the worst 14-game start in the Robert Kraft era (1994), while Bill Belichick has already tied the most losses he's taken in a single season. Belichick is 46-56 as the Patriots head coach without Tom Brady, and New England's scoring offense ranks last in the league (13.3 points per game). What the Bills have going for them in this matchup is that it's a rivalry game in front of their home fans, and then there's the revenge factor, as New England upset Buffalo 29-25 in Week 7. 

Buffalo's Week 18 season finale against Miami could be for all the marbles. Let's discuss. 

Dolphins dilema

The Bills dominated the Dolphins in Week 4, 48-20, but Miami has had an overall better season than Buffalo. At 10-4, the Dolphins are sitting pretty. But here's the thing ... 

Based on current opponent record, the Dolphins have played the easiest strength of schedule (.393), and have the toughest remaining strength of schedule (.690). Their remaining schedule looks like this: 

Week 16 vs. Cowboys
Week 17 at Ravens
Week 18 vs. Bills

It's totally feasible Miami drops the first two games. Especially considering the fact that this team was missing its entire starting offensive line at practice Wednesday due to injuries, per NFL Media. Then, you have to consider the fact that the Dolphins are just 1-6 vs. above-.500 teams this season

Buffalo should be rooting for Dallas this weekend and Baltimore the next, because the Week 18 regular-season finale could be a showdown for the division.

It's possible the Bills could make the playoffs as a wild card as well, but they will need some help in the form of losses from the Browns, Bengals, Colts and Texans. Let's take a look at the remaining strength of schedule for the teams currently battling for wild-card spots at 8-6 or better.

Wild card rivals' ranked strength of schedule

Via Tankathon

TeamRemaining schedule strength


.595 (at PIT, at KC, vs. CLE)


.524 (vs. CLE, vs. TEN, at IND)


.500 (at HOU, vs. NYJ, at CIN)


.476 (at ATL, vs. LV, vs. HOU)


.429 (at LAC, vs. NE, at MIA)

How the Bills have improved

Once viewed as a postseason afterthought, the Bills are now coming off wins over the 9-5 Chiefs and 10-4 Cowboys. As we alluded to in the intro, the Dorsey firing and Joe Brady promotion did spark something for Buffalo's offense. The Bills are averaging 29.3 points per game since firing Dorsey, which ranks fifth best in the NFL. Brady is using pre-snap motion 46% of the time, compared to Dorsey's 39%. Buffalo is averaging 5.6 yards per play with motion, and 4.9 yards without since that Week 11 turning point.

Quarterback Josh Allen has seven passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns over the last four games. Yes, turnovers have been an issue at times, but Allen has 10 games this season with a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown. That's the most by any player in a season in NFL history. Allen is clearly running more, averaging almost double the rushing attempts per game since Brady took over (4.8 rushes per game to 8.0 rushes per game). 

It's remarkable Buffalo beat Dallas by 21 points last week with Allen accounting for just 94 passing yards. That's because James Cook stole the show. He exploded for a career-high 179 rushing yards, which are the most recorded by a Bills player since Fred Jackson's 212 rushing yards back in 2009. Cook as a dual-threat weapon is something Brady has relied on, and it's paying dividends. He's averaging 21 touches and 141 scrimmage yards per game since the OC change. Previously, he averaged 14.4 touches and 83.7 scrimmage yards. The younger brother of Dalvin Cook has cleared 100 scrimmage yards in every game since Brady took over. 

We can't gloss over the job Buffalo's defense has done either. After the losses of Tre'Davious White and Matt Milano, it looked like this defense wasn't going to have enough firepower to compete. But this past week, the Bills held a top scoring offense to 10 total points, and delivered a massive blow to Prescott's MVP case, as the Cowboys QB threw for just 134 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. The Bills brought the physicality to the Cowboys, and dominated. 

Against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, you can argue the Bills' defense is the reason they ended up victorious. A.J. Epenesa forced a Mahomes turnover on the opening drive, and held Kansas City scoreless until there was one minute remaining in the first half. While Mahomes did lead two touchdown drives when it was all said and done, Buffalo's pressure was evident. According to the Bills' official website, Buffalo pressured Mahomes 11 times, which were the second-most pressures Mahomes had faced in a game this season. 

The Bills are playing their best ball right now, and it really may come down to that regular-season finale against Miami. On Nov. 27, the Bills had an 18.7% chance to make the playoffs, according to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh. Now, they have a 54.1% chance. Buckle up.