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AFC wild-card race in focus: remaining schedules broken down

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey stood at a lectern in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday afternoon and suggested his team still could pull off what the defending world champions did last year: get into the playoffs with a 7-7 record.

The Bills, of course, must win their next three games to reach 7-7. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson insisted Monday hope is not dead.

"We still got action," Johnson said. "I'm not going to say we're out of it yet. We still got action at being 9-7 and making the playoffs. We've still got to rely on other teams, but I seriously think we can still win out and make it to the playoffs."

With that in mind, let's lay out the remaining schedules of the eight teams in the wild-card playoff mix.

There's little reason to analyze division races because the margins are too great. The New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans lead their divisions by three games with five to play. The Denver Broncos are ahead by four games.

The Bills are 12th in the AFC standings because so many tiebreakers go against them. They'll need to surpass at least six teams to qualify for the postseason.

But the Bills do have the second-easiest remaining schedule of the teams with records between 4-7 and 7-4.

The Jets have the easiest strength of schedule, are one of only two teams in the wild-card mix that will play three other opponents in the group (the San Diego Chargers are the other) and will play the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the regular-season finale.

Here's the schedule breakdown in order of how the teams rank in the standings.

Indianapolis Colts

  • * Record: 7-4
  • * Strength of remaining schedule: .527
  • * Opponents: Lions (4-7), Titans (4-7), Texans (10-1), Chiefs (1-10), Texans (10-1)

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • * Record: 6-5
  • * Strength of remaining schedule: .491
  • * Opponents: Ravens (9-2), Chargers (4-7), Cowboys (5-6), Bengals (6-5), Browns (3-8)

Cincinnati Bengals

  • * Record: 6-5
  • * Strength of remaining schedule: .527
  • * Opponents: Chargers (4-7), Cowboys (5-6), Eagles (3-8), Steelers (6-5), Ravens (9-2)

Miami Dolphins

  • * Record: 5-6
  • * Strength of remaining schedule: .555
  • * Opponents: Patriots (8-3), 49ers (8-2-1), Jaguars (2-9), Bills (4-7), Patriots (8-3)

San Diego Chargers

  • * Record: 4-7
  • * Strength of remaining schedule: .400
  • * Opponents: Bengals (6-5), Steelers (6-5), Panthers (3-8), Jets (4-7), Raiders (3-8)

Tennessee Titans

  • * Record: 4-7
  • * Strength of remaining schedule: .545
  • * Opponents: Texans (10-1), Colts (7-4), Jets (4-7), Packers (7-4), Jaguars (2-9)

New York Jets

  • * Record: 4-7
  • * Strength of remaining schedule: .327
  • * Opponents: Cardinals (4-7), Jaguars (2-9), Titans (4-7), Chargers (4-7), Bills (4-7)

Buffalo Bills

  • * Record: 4-7
  • * Strength of remaining schedule: .391
  • * Opponents: Jaguars (2-9), Rams (4-6-1), Seahawks (6-5), Dolphins (5-6), Jets (4-7)
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |