NFL Playoff scenarios: How the AFC East could come down to Bills-Dolphins in Week 18

The AFC East could come down to one final important showdown between its two best teams.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen tucks the ball and scores a touchdown on this play.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen tucks the ball and scores a touchdown on this play. / Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and

With, as of this writing, three games remaining in Week 16, there are only five teams in the league riding winning streaks of three or more games. The San Francisco 49ers lead the way with six consecutive victories, followed by the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, each with four straight wins. The Niners and Ravens will clash at Levi’s Stadium later today.

Those clubs are followed by the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, both prevailing in their last three outings. Sean McDermott’s club was 6-6 after 12 contests, meaning the team had already lost twice as many games as it did in 2022. However, there’s been a reawakening of sorts following the team’s firing of now former offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and the club has strung together wins over the Chiefs, Cowboys and Chargers.

The 9-6 Bills remain two games behind the 11-4 Miami Dolphins in the AFC East. Mike McDaniel’s club wrapped up a playoff berth on Sunday via a 22-20 come-from-behind win over the visiting Cowboys. The Dolphins have won 11 games for the first time since 2008, which is also the last time the franchise claimed a division title.

AFC East could be decided by one final game in Week 18

McDaniel’s club has spent the majority of 2023 in first place in the AFC East, but that doesn’t mean they are going to be there in a few weeks. Simply put, Miami faces the Ravens at Baltimore (Week 17) and hosts Buffalo on the final day of the regular season. If the Dolphins drop their final two games and the Bills defeat the New England Patriots at Orchard Park this Sunday, McDermott’s club will win the AFC East for the fourth straight year.

A Miami loss to the Ravens and a Buffalo win over the Pats this week would put the Dolphins at 11-5 and the Bills at 10-6. Keep in mind that back in Week 4 at Orchard Park, Josh Allen and company humbled Miami, 48-20. If these teams finished tied at 11-6, Buffalo wins the division thanks to a sweep of the series. Including last season’s 34-31 home playoff win over the Dolphins, McDermott and the Bills own an imposing 12-2 record in this rivalry dating back to his hiring in 2017.

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