With a 4-5 record, the Bills look like they're headed for a 17th consecutive season of watching the playoffs from home.
The analytics site Football Outsiders gives them a 13.6 percent chance of making the postseason. FiveThirtyEight plugs it at 20 percent. Some fans may be thinking even less after looking at the standings.
The Bills are third in the division and 12th in the conference when you factor in their 1-4 record against AFC opponents, which is an important tiebreaker.
If the Bills were able to finish 6-1, it would put the them at 10-6 overall and 7-5 in the conference. Would that be enough for a wild card berth?
"Well that’s what the normal math is, the normal thinking," coach Rex Ryan said earlier this week. "That’s always been the number that you put out there, that generally 10 (wins) gets you in. It’s not all the time, but generally that’s what happens. But with us, I know we want to get away from the, whatever — our focus has to be on Cincinnati, and that’s it. You can’t worry about getting to 10 wins. Shoot, we have to worry about getting five wins, so I think that’s where we have to look at. We haven’t earned the right to think about anything further than that."
Dating back to 2002, when Houston joined the league and the division setups changed, 10-6 with a 7-5 conference record would have been good enough for an AFC wild card berth in at least eight of 14 seasons, with two instances of that being good enough for one team but not for another, depending on further tiebreakers.
2015: Steelers Yes, Jets No
2007: Titans Yes, Browns No
However, with so many teams ahead of the Bills and where they stand in tiebreakers (and considering three teams in the AFC West already have seven wins), 10-6 may not even be good enough to get in. Ending the playoff drought could require running the table for an 11-5 finish.
How unlikely is that?
The Bills haven't won seven straight since the Super Bowl years.
Jim Kelly's 1990 Bills were the last Buffalo team to win seven games in a row. The 1988 Bills won eight in a row. Before that, you'd have to go back to the AFL days, when the Bills won 11 consecutive regular season games between the 1963 and '64 seasons.
The Bills' playoff drought is already old enough to drive. Barring a hot streak not seen in decades, it will soon be able to get into R-rated movies.
— Nick Veronica (@NickVeronica) September 25, 2016