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NFL playoff picture: What does Patriots-Bills mean for AFC standings

The Patriots face the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday, January 8. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view of Highmark Stadium before a game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets on December 11, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Results update: The Bills beat the Patriots 35-23. Buffalo clinched the No. 2 seed and if they face the Chiefs in the AFC title game, it will take place at a neutral site. The Dolphins won and that means the Patriots have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills meet at Highmark Stadium in Buffalo on Sunday in a Week 18 matchup with critical playoff implications. Both teams have something to play for, although New England faces a more desperate situation. Buffalo is an 8.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Patriots playoff picture

The Patriots will clinch the final AFC wild card berth with a win and would not require help in that scenario. They are currently 8-8 and while they are tied with the Dolphins and Steelers, they have the tiebreaker edge. If the Patriots lose, they can still clinch a playoff berth, but would need the Dolphins to lose to the Jets and the Steelers to lose to the Browns.

Bills playoff picture

The Bills are 12-3 and are in second place in the AFC. They sit behind the 14-3 Chiefs and ahead of the 11-4 Bengals. If the Bills win, they would finish the season a half game back of the Chiefs. Due to the Bills-Bengals cancellation, the league decreed that in this instance if the Bills and Chiefs meet in the AFC title game, it would take place at a neutral site.

If the Bills lose and the Bengals beat the Ravens, they would finish tied in the AFC standings. They would be equal on the conference record and common games tiebreakers, which means it moves to strength of victory. The Bengals would lead that by three wins pending the outcomes of the rest of the Week 18 schedule.

Tiebreaker implications

If the Bills win, this has no tiebreaker implications. If the Bills lose, it would even up the conference record and common games tiebreakers with the Bengals, thus moving it to strength of victory.