The Bills’ status as the Super Bowl 57 favorite has faded in a hurry. After Sunday’s shocking 33-30 home overtime loss to the Vikings in Week 10, Buffalo needs to worry about simply getting on track to earn more than an AFC wild-card berth.
A two-game losing streak has dropped the Bills to 6-3 just past the midway point of the 2022 NFL season. They collapsed and fell to an NFC opponent Sunday; their previous two losses were costly as both came in AFC East play.
MORE: How Bills’ loss, Dolphins’ win changed division order
While the 8-1 Vikings strengthened their position as the clear No. 2 team behind the Eagles in the NFC playoff picture, the Bills’ upset loss created significant ripple effects on the AFC playoff picture:
1. The Bills go from No. 1 to No. 6 in the AFC
The Bills entered Week 10 with home-field advantage and the lone bye in the AFC playoffs as the top seed. They had key wins against the division-leading Chiefs, Titans and Ravens. But the loss to the Vikings, coupled with their Week 3 loss at the Dolphins, made all of that moot.
MORE: How the Vikings won a Game of the Year candidate in OT over the Bills
The Bills were also coming off a road loss to the Jets in Week 9. With the Dolphins now a half-game better and the Jets even with the Bills, Miami and New York are the new first- and second-place teams in the East. The Bills dropped to third in the division and the next-to-last AFC wild-card spot, ahead of only the 5-3 Chargers.
2. The Chiefs go from No. 2 to No. 1
The 7-2 Chiefs have had a fantastic two weeks in their quest to get back to the Super Bowl led by MVP front-runner Patrick Mahomes. They beat the AFC South-leading Titans (6-3, No. 3 seed in the AFC) in Week 9 and took care of the Jaguars in Week 10. With the Bills losing twice in that span, the Chiefs now are in full control of the top seed and the critical race for the bye and home-field advantage.
The AFC playoff field having to go through Kansas City again is exactly what Buffalo wanted to avoid. But now the Bills need to work hard just to win their division and not be forced to play on the road as they make their playoff run.
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Even though they beat the Titans and Ravens earlier, the Bills should want no part of facing either team on the road in the wild-card round. The Chiefs can keep doing work in Week 11 against the Chargers on Sunday night.
3. The Dolphins go from No. 5 to No. 2
The Dolphins destroyed the Browns at home in Week 10. After starting 3-0 and then falling to 3-3, they are on a four-game winning streak, which is well-timed with the Bills’ current skid. Miami (7-3) goes into its Week 11 bye knowing it would stay in first place via head-to-head tiebreaker even if the Bills rebound and also beat up on the Browns at home. Should Cleveland keep Buffalo cold by winning there and the Patriots complete a sweep of the Jets in Foxborough, then the Dolphins’ lead would grow to a full game while they’re off.
4. The Jets go from No. 6 to No. 5
The 6-3 Jets were given more reason to celebrate their Week 9 win over the Bills. They slid up a spot in both the division and wild-card standings during their bye week. They are just a half-game back of the Dolphins, whom they beat at home in Week 5. A win at New England in Week 11 would put Gang Green atop the division because of the head-to-head results vs. Buffalo and Miami. The Jets play at Buffalo in Week 14 and at Miami in Week 18 with a chance for key sweeps of both teams.