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How can Bills clinch the No. 1 seed, a first-round bye, & home-field advantage in Week 18?

The Bills have a shot at clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the 2023 NFL Playoffs. We break down what they need to do in Week 18.

Tim Settle #99 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a fumble recovery against the Chicago Bears during the third quarter at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Sunday results update: The Bills defeated the Patriots 35-23. Nyheim Hines returned two kickoffs for a touchdown, and Buffalo played inspired. As a result, they will have the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture.


Results update: In the first game of Week 18, the Chiefs easily beat the Raiders 31-13. That win clinches the No. 1 seed for the Chiefs, but if the Bills beat the Patriots on Sunday and make it to the AFC Championship game against the Chiefs, the game will be held at a neutral site.


The Buffalo Bills close out the 2022-23 regular season with a home game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET and the Bills are a 7.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

The Bills have already secured a spot in the 2023 NFL Playoffs, having clinched the AFC East title for a third straight year. They now head into Week 18 with a chance to claim the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. However, even if they don’t claim the No. 1 seed, they have a chance to at least force the AFC Championship Game to be played on a neutral field.

If the Bills beat the Patriots on Sunday and the Chiefs lose or tie against the Raiders on Saturday, Buffalo clinches the No. 1 seed in the conference. If the Bills tie the Patriots and the Chiefs lose to the Raiders, Buffalo also clinches the No. 1 seed. With that comes a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the AFC title game.

Where it gets interesting is three scenarios that could result in a neutral site AFC title game. The Bills-Bengals Week 17 game was canceled, leaving Buffalo and Cincinnati finishing the season with one fewer game played than the Chiefs and everybody else in the league. There are three scenarios in which the Bills would play the AFC title game on a neutral field if they advanced that far. They are as follows:

  1. Buffalo and Kansas City both win or both tie – a Buffalo vs. Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
  2. Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties – a Buffalo vs. Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
  3. Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins – a Buffalo or Cincinnati vs. Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.

None of this applies in any other possible playoff scenario.