BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo Bills locked in a playoff berth on Saturday by beating the Dolphins to improve to 11-3. This week against the Bears, a bigger prize awaits.
Here’s a look at the Bills’ clinching scenarios heading into Week 16.
How the Bills can clinch the AFC East title
With a win on Saturday at Chicago (3-11), the Bills will clinch their third straight AFC East title. That’s the simplest scenario.
If the Bills (11-3) were to lose Saturday, they could also clinch the AFC East on Sunday if the Dolphins (8-6) lose at home to the Packers (5-8).
In fact, any Bills win or tie over the final three weeks of the season, OR any Dolphins loss or tie over the final three weeks, will clinch the AFC East title for the Bills.
The only way the Bills don’t win the AFC East is if they lose their final three games and the Dolphins win their final three. If that happened, they’d be tied at 11-6, even on head-to-head, and the Dolphins would win out based on division record.
The Chiefs are the only team with a longer active streak of division titles — they recently clinched their seventh consecutive AFC West championship. The Titans could also extend their streak to three seasons if they win the AFC South.
How the Bills can clinch the AFC’s #1 seed and home-field advantage
The Bills currently hold the AFC’s #1 seed. They have the same record as the Chiefs, but won the head-to-head matchup earlier this season.
At this point, the only way for the Bills to mathematically clinch a first-round bye is to win all the rest of their games. If the Chiefs happen to lose one of their final three games (vs. Seattle, vs. Denver, at Las Vegas), the Bills’ clinching scenario could change.
The Bengals (10-4) are currently in third place in the AFC — and they welcome Buffalo for a Monday Night game on Jan. 2.
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.