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EAGLES COULD PROVE TIE-BREAKERS PHILLY HAS COMMON-OPPONENT ROLE IN AFC EAST RACE

It's not a division or conference game, but today's game against the Philadelphia Eagles could have tie-breaker implications for the Buffalo Bills.

It's conceivable that if the Bills and Miami Dolphins finish tied for the AFC East championship, the tie-breaker will come down to won-lost percentage against common opponents, the fourth tie-breaker step.

The Bills and Dolphins have 12 games against common opponents. So far Buffalo is 8-0 against New England (2), Indianapolis, the New York Jets (2), Phoenix, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Raiders, with games remaining against the New York Giants, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Washington. Miami is 7-2 with victories against the New York Jets (2), New England (2), Indianapolis, Cleveland and Phoenix and losses against the Giants and Raiders. Miami has games remaining against Washington, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

The tie-breaker steps to decide a two-team tie within a division are:

1. Head to head: Miami leads, 1-0, by virtue of its 30-7 victory over the Bills in September.

2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division: Miami has the advantage, 6-0 to 5-1.

3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference: Miami has the advantage, 8-1 to 8-2.

4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games: The Bills lead, 8-0 to 7-2.

5. Best net points in division games: Miami leads plus-71 to plus-50.

6. Best net points in all games: The Bills lead plus-135 to plus-110.

7. Strength of schedule: Miami has slight edge based on the difference between the records of Seattle (5-6, and a Miami opponent) and Denver (3-8, and a Buffalo opponent). Pittsburgh (a Miami opponent) and Houston (a Buffalo opponent) currently are tied with 6-5 records.

8. Best net touchdowns in all games: Bills lead, plus-18 to plus-16.

9. Coin toss.
The Eagles will be looking for their sixth straight victory today. Winning six in a row is something they haven't done since they opened the 1981 season with a 6-0 mark, including a 20-14 victory over the previously unbeaten Bills at Rich Stadium in Week Three that year on a nationally televised Thursday night game.
Buffalo has lost only one fumble in the last seven games, that by Jim Kelly when he was sacked by the Phoenix Cardinals. . . . Guard Jim Ritcher will play in his 161st game to tie Ken Jones for fifth place on the all-time Bills list. . . . Wide receiver James Lofton of the Bills needs three receptions to move past former New York Giant-Titan-Jet Don Maynard (633) into sixth place on the all-time NFL reception list and 120 yards to surpass Maynard's No. 3 yardage total (11,834). Lofton has 631 catches for 11,725 yards in his career with Green Bay, the Los Angeles Raiders and the Bills.

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