NFL

AFC playoff picture: Bills take over at No. 1, while Dolphins drop 4 spots

Perhaps there’s a potential path to the postseason for the Patriots?

Josh Allen and the Bills used a win over the Patriots -- and a few losses from the other AFC contenders -- to seize the top spot in the playoff chase. JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF


Week 13 was a big one for Buffalo, as the Bills rolled over the Patriots and used losses from the Chiefs and Dolphins to leapfrog from fifth spot up to the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The Bengals, Titans, and Ravens also moved up, while the Dolphins took a tumble. Plus, perhaps there’s a potential path to the postseason for the Patriots?

Here’s a look at the AFC playoff picture entering Week 14:

1. Bills (9-3)

⬆️ Up four spots from last week

Remaining schedule: vs. Jets (7-5), vs. Dolphins (8-4), at Bears (3-10), at Bengals (8-4), vs. Patriots (6-6).

Opponents’ record: 32-29 (.525)

The skinny: Josh Allen is the first player in NFL history with three seasons of at least 25 passing touchdowns and at least five rushing touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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2. Chiefs (9-3)

⬇️ Down one from last week

Remaining schedule: at Broncos (3-9), at Texans (1-10-1), vs. Seahawks (7-5), vs. Broncos (3-9), at Raiders (5-7).

Opponents’ record: 19-41-1 (.311)

The skinny: That loss to the Bengals knocked Kansas City out of the top spot, but the Chiefs can take comfort in the fact that they probably have the easiest schedule the rest of the way of any team on this list.

3. Ravens (8-4)

⬆️ Up one from last week

Remaining schedule: at Steelers (5-7), at Browns (5-7), vs. Falcons (5-8), vs. Steelers (5-7), at Bengals (8-4).

Opponents’ record: 28-33 (.459)

The skinny: Baltimore has looked surprisingly ragged the last couple of weeks, with the loss to the Jaguars and just barely escaping with a win over the Broncos. The Ravens need to get their act together — the Bengals are coming for that division.

4. Titans (7-5)

⬆️ Up one from last week

Remaining schedule: vs. Jaguars (4-8), at Chargers (6-6), vs. Texans (1-10-1), vs. Cowboys (9-3), at Jaguars (4-8).

Opponents’ record: 24-35-1 (.400)

The skinny: Last week, the record of their future opponents was .508. The Eagles (11-1) are now behind them, which means their opponents’ combined winning percentage drops more than one hundred percentage points.

5. Bengals (8-4)

⬆️ Up one from last week

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Remaining schedule: vs. Browns (5-7), at Buccaneers (6-6), at Patriots (6-6), vs. Bills (9-3), vs. Ravens (8-4)

Opponents’ record: 34-26 (.567)

The skinny: The last time the Bengals had a record this good after 12 games was 2015, when they started 10-2, lost two of their last four, and dropped an ugly wild-card loss to the Steelers. It’s still relatively early, but I’m going to go ahead and say this team will finish better than the 2022 squad.

6. Dolphins (8-4)

⬇️ Down four from last week

Remaining schedule: at Chargers (6-6), at Bills (9-3), vs. Packers (5-8), at Patriots (6-6), vs. Jets (7-5).

Opponents’ record: 33-28 (.541)

The skinny: Tyreek Hill has 96 receptions for 1,379 receiving yards on the year, which leads the NFL by 102 yards. He already has the second-most single season receiving yards in Dolphins history, and is just 11 yards away from the top spot, set by Mark Clayton in 1984, with five games left.

7. Jets (7-5)

Unchanged from last week

Remaining schedule: at Bills (9-3), vs. Lions (5-7), vs. Jaguars (4-8), at Seahawks (7-5), at Dolphins (8-4)

Opponents’ record: 33-27 (.550)

The skinny: Mike White and Kurt Warner (1999) are the only two quarterbacks in NFL history to have multiple games with at least a 75 percent completion rate, 300 passing yards, and three touchdowns in their first four career starts.

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On the bubble (teams .500 or better)

8. Patriots (6-6)

Unchanged from last week

Remaining schedule: at Cardinals (4-8), at Raiders (5-7), vs. Bengals (8-4), vs. Dolphins (8-4), at Bills (9-3).

Opponents’ record: 34-26 (.567)

The skinny: What do you think of this scenario? Miami and Buffalo keep rolling into the last two weeks of the season, and one (or both) have playoff seeding decided as they enter their games against New England. The result? One (or both) decide to sit their starters against the Patriots, clearing a path for New England to sneak into the postseason. Unlikely? Probably. But stranger things have happened.

9. Chargers (6-6)

Unchanged from last week

Remaining schedule: at Raiders (5-7), vs. Dolphins (8-4), vs. Titans (7-5), at Colts (4-8-1), vs. Rams (3-9), at Broncos (3-9).

Opponents’ record: 30-42-1 (.411)

The skinny: There’s no way I’m writing off the Chargers. Their final three games are against teams that are, to paraphrase Jim Irsay, in the lower quartile of teams in that bottom quartile.

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