What to watch for: AFC playoff race

December 31, 2017

Joe DiBiase reporting

The Buffalo Bills are alive in the AFC playoff race in Week 17 for the first time since 2004. They're joined by the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and Los Angeles Chargers, all vying for twp available spots. 

Here is what each team needs to make the playoffs:


  • Win vs. Dolphins. Ravens lose. 
  • Win vs. Dolphins. Chargers lose AND Titans lose. 


  • Win vs. Bengals. 
  • Loss vs. Bengals, Bills lose. 
  • Loss vs. Bengals, Titans lose. 


  • Win vs. Jaguars. 
  • Loss vs. Jaguars. Bills lose AND Chargers lose. 
  • Tie vs Jaguars. Bills lose or tie  AND Chargers lose or tie.


  • Win vs. Raiders. Titans lose or tie AND Bills lose or tie. 
  • Win vs Raiders. Titans lose or tie AND Ravens win or tie. 
  • Tie vs Raiders. Titans lose AND Bills lose or tie. 


Game Previews

Bills (-2.5) at Dolphins

Previous Matchup: 12/17 - Bills 24 - Dolphins 16

Bills Notable Injuries:

  • CB - Shareece Wright - OUT (Concussion)
  • C - Ryan Groy - QUESTIONABLE (Illness)
  • WR - Deonte Thompson - QUESTIONABLE (Knee)

Dolphins Notable Injuries:

  • OT - Laremy Tunsil - DOUBTFUL (Ankle)
  • WR - DeVante Parker - QUESTIONABLE (Ankle)
  • RB - Damien Williams - DOUBTFUL (Shoulder)


  • 75-degrees, 11 mph wind, Partly cloudy 

What to watch for:

  • The last time these teams met, the Bills were effective against running back Kenyan Drake, something they'll need to do once again. Reports say that Miami's third string quarterback David Fales could get action in this game. Fales was a sixth round pick in 2014 and has seven career pass attempts. Tyrod Taylor has had success against the Dolphins in five matchups, averaging 246 pass yards, 40 rush yards, and adding nine touchdowns with no interceptions. 

Bengals at Ravens (-9)

Previous Matchup: 9/20 - Ravens 20 - Bengals 0

Ravens Notable Injuries: 

  • WR - Jeremy Maclin - DOUBTFUL (Knee)
  • WR - Mike Wallace - QUESTIONABLE (Knee)
  • RT - Austin Howard - QUESTIONABLE (Knee)

Bengals Notable Injuries:

  • LB - Vontaze Bufict - QUESTIONABLE (Shoulder)
  • RB - Joe Mixon - QUESTIONABLE (Ankle)
  • OT - Cedric Ogbuehi - OUT (Shoulder)


  • 20-degrees, Overcast, 11 mph wind 

What to watch for:

  • The Ravens are hot. They've won five of six, the only loss being by one point to the Steelers. After a poor start to the year, they have the most points in the AFC in the second half os the season. With Maclin and Wallace banged up, the Ravens are thin at receiver. Breshard Perrmian has been inactive at times, and Michael Campanaro is just a slot receiver. Veteran tight end and running back Danny Woodhead could be top targets for Joe Flacco. This could be the final game for Marvin Lewis as Bengals head coach. If true, the Bengals could be playing inspired football. 

Jaguars at Titans (-2)

Previous Matchup: 9/17 - Titans 37 - Jaguars 16

Titans Notable Injuries:

  • RB - DeMarco Murray - OUT (Torn MCL)

Jaguars Notable Injuries:

  • WR - Marquise Lee - OUT (Ankle)


  • 24-degrees, Sunny, 10 mph wind

What to watch for:

  • With DeMarco Murray out, Derrick Henry will start at running back for the Titans. He'll need to run the ball well, as the Jags have allowed the fewest pass yards per game in the NFL with 173.5. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has emerged as one of the top corners in the league for Jacksonville. Head coach Doug Marrone says his team will play to win the game, and not rest it's starters. Bills fans certainly hope he's telling the truth. 

Raiders at Chargers (-7)

Previous Matchup: 10/15 - Chargers 17 - Raiders 16

Chargers Notable Injuries:

  • RB - Melvin Gordon - QUESTIONABLE (Ankle)
  • OT - Russell Okung - QUESTIONABLE (Groin)
  • DT - Corey Liuget - QUESTIONABLE (Knee)

Raiders Notable Injuries:

  • CB - David Amerson - QUESTIONABLE (Foot)


  • 61-degrees, Partly Cloudy, No wind 

What to watch for:

  • The last time this teams met, the Chargers won on a last minute field goal. Derek Carr did not have a good game with just 171 yards and two interceptions. The Chargers do have a weakness in run defense. They're dead last in the NFL in rush yards allowed per game. If the Raiders want to win, Marshawn Lynch will likely have to have a huge day. For the Chargers, Melvin Gordon is expected to play with an ankle injury, but he's having another below average year anyway with just 3.8 yards per-carry. The Raiders will have to look like they did last year to get this win. 


Kickoff for all four games of AFC Wild Card importance is 4:25 p.m.