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Posted: Friday, 13 December 2013 12:24PM

In the realm of crazy: Bills have chance with 7-9 tie



Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550)  -- Crazy things have happened in the NFL, but for the Buffalo Bills to somehow get a sniff at the playoffs it might come down to the craziest playoff tiebreaker scenario you'll ever see.

Before we journey down the rabbit hole, a disclaimer needs to be put out there that it is perhaps the slimmest of chances for this to happen and absolutely every single game needs to go the Bills' way. However, if for some reason the football gods are smiling down on Buffalo, there are scenarios for them to make it.

Also, ties are so rare in the NFL that the following look is without a consideration of a tie at the end of a game. Onward and upward:

What needs to happen:
1) Buffalo (4-9) has to win out the rest of their games
2) Baltimore (7-6) must lose their final 3 games
3) Miami (7-6) must lose their final 3 games
4) San Diego (7-7) must lose their final 2 games

That would create a four-way tie at 7-9, right? You would think so, but it actually has to be bigger than that.

In order for the Dolphins to lose all three of their games, they must lose to the New York Jets (6-7) in Week 17, which would give the latter seven wins on the season. Then, the Bills would need both Carolina and Cleveland to take care of business and beat the Jets, to keep them at a 7-9 record.

So at minimum, if there are no ties in the equation, the only way for there to be a situation with 7-9 being good enough for the final spot in the AFC playoffs where the Bills are involved, is if it were a five-team tie.

In that situation with Buffalo, Baltimore, Miami, San Diego and the New York Jets at 7-9, Buffalo would get the final spot in the AFC playoffs.

There are wildcards in this scenario, too, as if the Bills didn't need enough to go their way already.

There are also four other teams that have to be accounted for because they all have under 10 losses just like the Bills. It would be five, but Jacksonville is discounted because Buffalo must beat them in Week 15 to get to 7-9.

The four other teams that could have an effect on things are Pittsburgh (5-8), Tennessee (5-8), Cleveland (4-9) and Oakland (4-9).

If it's a six-way tie involving the aforementioned five teams and ___, the following happens:
  1. Pittsburgh (5-8): 
    • If their two wins come against Cincinnati and Cleveland: 
      • Pittsburgh gets the final spot at 7-9. 
    • If they lose to either Cincinnati or Cleveland and instead beat Green Bay in Week 16:
      • Buffalo gets the final spot at 7-9
  2. Tennessee (5-8): 
    • No matter how they get their two wins, as long as they lose one game:
      • Buffalo gets the final spot at 7-9
  3. Cleveland (4-9): 
    • They must win out to get to this scenario, and if they do:
      • Buffalo gets the final spot at 7-9
  4. Oakland (4-9): 
    • They must win out to get to this scenario, and if they do:
      • Oakland gets the final spot at 7-9
Hey, but what if it's bigger? First, Cleveland and Pittsburgh cannot be in the same tie scenario because Cleveland has to win out to get to 7-9 and they play one another in Week 17.

So if it's a seven-team tie with the initial five teams and ___, here are the results:
  1. Pittsburgh (5-8) and Tennessee (5-8):
    • If Pittsburgh's loss comes to Cincinnati or Cleveland:
      • Tennessee's loss comes to Arizona
        • Tennessee gets the final spot at 7-9
      • Tennessee's loss comes to Jacksonville or Houston
        • Buffalo gets the final spot at 7-9
    • If Pittsburgh's loss comes to Green Bay:
      • Tennessee's loss comes to Arizona
        • Buffalo gets the final spot at 7-9
      • Tennessee's loss comes to Jacksonville or Houston
        • Pittsburgh gets the final spot at 7-9
  2. Pittsburgh (5-8) and Oakland (4-9):
    • Oakland gets the final spot at 7-9, regardless of how Pittsburgh wins their two games
  3. Tennessee (5-8) and Cleveland (4-9):
    • If Tennessee's loss comes to Arizona:
      • Tennessee gets the final spot at 7-9
    • If Tennessee's loss comes to Jacksonville or Houston:
      • Buffalo gets the final spot at 7-9
  4. Tennessee (5-8) and Oakland (4-9):
    • Oakland gets the final spot at 7-9, regardless of how Tennessee wins their two games
  5. Cleveland (4-9) and Oakland (4-9):
    • Oakland gets the final spot at 7-9
Feeling crazier? How about an eight-team tie?
  1. Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Oakland
    • Oakland gets the final spot at 7-9, regardless of how both Tennessee and Pittsburgh win their two games.
  2. Tennessee (5-8), Cleveland (4-9) and Oakland (4-9)
    • Oakland gets the final spot at 7-9, regardless of how Tennessee wins their two games
The crazy stops there, there cannot be a nine-way tie unfortunately.

As it was mentioned earlier, all of these scenarios are highly, highly unlikely. But if you're an optimistic Bills fan that wants to hold on to the hope of this season, now you know exactly what needs to happen.

**All projections helped with ESPN.com's Playoff Machine

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

All photos courtesy of AP
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