The Buffalo Bills' victory over the Houston Texans was a needed step in the right direction toward the postseason.
Unfortunately, the out-of-town scoreboard did not cooperate for the Bills.
Buffalo is up to eighth in the AFC after Sunday's 30-21 victory over the Texans, picking up an important conference victory and the head-to-head tiebreaker over Houston.
Victories by the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers, however, mean the Bills are still looking up at those three teams in the conference standings.
Here is the updated playoff picture in the AFC, along with what the Bills are hoping for in Week 14.
1. Cincinnati (10-2).
Remaining schedule: Pittsburgh, at San Francisco, at Denver, Baltimore.
What to root for: A victory over the Steelers in Week 14 would be huge for the Bills. Outside of Buffalo's own game against the Eagles, it's the most important game on the schedule.
2. Denver (10-2).
Remaining schedule: Oakland, at Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, at San Diego.
What to root for: The Broncos can help the Bills by winning the next two weeks. If they go 1-1 over that stretch, it would be much better for the Bills that they lose to the Raiders and beat the Steelers.
3. New England (10-2).
Remaining schedule: at Houston, Tennessee, at New York Jets, at Miami.
What to root for: The best help New England can give Buffalo is to beat Houston in Week 14 and the New York Jets in Week 16.
4. Indianapolis (6-6).
Remaining schedule: at Jacksonville, Houston, at Miami, Tennessee.
What to root for: The Bills own head-to-head tiebreakers on both the Colts and Texans, so as long as they stay tied with those teams, they're fine. To be safe, the Colts losing to the Jaguars in Week 14 would be beneficial to the Bills.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-5).
Remaining schedule: San Diego, at Baltimore, Cleveland, Oakland.
What to root for: The Chiefs' victory over the Raiders on Sunday makes it even more unlikely the Bills can catch them, because the head-to-head tiebreaker means they in essence have a two-game lead right now. Nevertheless, Bills fans should be rooting for whoever is playing the Chiefs the rest of the season.
6. New York Jets (7-5).
Remaining schedule: Tennessee, at Dallas, New England, at Buffalo.
What to root for: The Jets' win over the Giants on Sunday certainly didn't help the Bills, but it wasn't a killer, either. If the Jets continue to hold the sixth and final playoff spot, the Bills just need to be within a game of them going into the Week 17 finale to control their own destiny. The New England game in Week 16 is likely the next time the Jets will be underdogs. A loss in Week 14 against the Titans would help the Bills.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5).
Remaining schedule: at Cincinnati, Denver, at Baltimore, at Cleveland.
What to foot for: Pittsburgh's dominating victory over the Colts on Sunday should worry Bills fans. The Steelers looked like a team to be taken seriously the rest of the way. Pittsburgh has a 4-4 conference record, and can at best finish with an 8-4 mark. If they do that, they'll have won out and the Bills couldn't catch them. If Pittsburgh loses one of its remaining games, and the Bills beat the Jets in Week 17, they'll have identical 7-5 conference records. The next tiebreaker after that is the best record in common games, with a minimum of four played. That makes Pittsburgh's game against the Bengals even bigger, since they are a common opponent.
8. Buffalo (6-6).
Remaining schedule: at Philadelphia, at Washington, Dallas, New York Jets.
Analysis: Here's where things stand: If the Bills go 4-0 the rest of the way, they would need two Pittsburgh losses to guarantee the playoffs. If the Steelers lose only one game, it would come down to the common games tiebreaker. If that's tied, it comes down to strength of victory.
If the Bills go 3-1 down the stretch -- provided the loss isn't to the Jets -- they would need two Pittsburgh losses and two New York losses (one of which has to be to the Bills in Week 17) to get into the postseason.
This does not factor in catching the Chiefs.
9. Houston Texans (6-6).
Remaining schedule: New England, at Indianapolis, at Tennessee, Jacksonville.
Best-case scenario for Bills: The Texans' Week 15 game against the Colts looms large in the AFC South race. Houston can't give the Bills any direct help, but their performance could factor into Buffalo's strength of victory.
10. Oakland (5-7).
Remaining schedule: at Denver, Green Bay, San Diego, at Kansas City.
What to root for: The Raiders shouldn't be much of a worry for the Bills at this point, but a loss to the Broncos on Sunday would really take them out of the picture. If that happens, then the Raiders can help the Bills in Week 17 by beating Kansas City.
11. Miami Dolphins (5-7).
Remaining schedule: New York Giants, at San Diego, Indianapolis, New England.
What to root for: A victory over the Colts in Week 16 could give the Bills some help. Otherwise, the Dolphins shouldn't factor in too much to the Bills' chances, other than the strength of victory tiebreaker.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8).
Remaining schedule: Indianapolis, Atlanta, at New Orleans, at Houston.
What to root for: Victories over the Colts and Texans.
13. Baltimore Ravens (4-8).
Remaining schedule: Seattle, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, at Cincinnati.
What to root for: Buffalo fans should adopt the Ravens as their own in Week 15 against the Chiefs and Week 15 against the Steelers.
14. San Diego Chargers (3-9).
Remaining schedule: at Kansas City, Miami, at Oakland, at Denver.
What to root for: Beating the Chiefs, and possibly the Raiders, would be a big help for the Bills.
15. Tennessee Titans (3-9).
Remaining schedule: at New York Jets, at New England, Houston, at Indianapolis.
Analysis: Any Titans win down the stretch will help the Bills.
16. Cleveland Browns (2-10).
Remaining schedule: San Francisco, at Seattle, at Kansas City, Pittsburgh.
What to root for: Bills fans have to hope the Browns haven't completely checked out by Week 16 and Week 17, when they could provide a bunch of help.