The Buffalo Bills are entering the final game of the 2015 season, and while they could play the role of spoiler for the New York Jets, some in the fan base are also keeping an eye towards the future in regards to the 2016 NFL Draft.
How the Bills, and some other contests around the league finish out can greatly influence and cause fluctuation of where they will pick in the first round come late April.
Of course, the Bills want to win. However, one of the questions that gets asked the most is: “How high could the Bills pick in 2016?
After crunching the numbers, we’ve got your answer, including who you need to be rooting for in the event of a Bills loss to the Jets. Here are the findings:
The current draft order of non-playoff teams:
1. Tennessee (3-12)
2. Cleveland (3-12)
3. San Diego (4-11)
4. Dallas (4-11)
5. San Francisco (4-11)
6. Jacksonville (5-10)
7. Miami (5-10)
8. Baltimore (5-10)
9. Tampa Bay (6-9)
10. New York Giants (6-9)
11. New Orleans (6-9)
12. Philadelphia (6-9)
13. Detroit (6-9)
14. Chicago (6-9)
15. Indianapolis (7-8)
16. Buffalo (7-8)
17. Oakland (7-8)
18. St. Louis (7-8)
19. Atlanta (8-7)
20. Pittsburgh (9-6)
Quite obviously, with only one game to go, that means only the teams from 9th to 19th are considered for the purposes of the Bills ultimate spot in the 2016 draft order.
So, from that line of thinking, let’s rule some teams out of those the Bills cannot pass, no matter how hard they try:
The Bills cannot pass (with a loss to the New York Jets)…
Tampa Bay (6-9)
- Even if the Buccaneers pulled the upset of the Carolina Panthers, it wouldn’t matter. The Bills cannot catch the Buccaneers in the first draft order tiebreaker: opponent strength of schedule.
New York Giants (6-9)
- It’s the same story for the New York Giants, their opponent strength of schedule is too weak for the Bills to pass them even in the event of a Buffalo loss and a Giants win. However, it actually works out better that way, because it creates a clear rooting interest for Bills fans when the Giants take on the Eagles in Week 17.
One of Detroit/Chicago (6-9)
- Both of these 6-9 these teams cannot catch the Bills on the tiebreaker in the event of a similar record. However, they are playing each other, which means only one team can finish the year with a 7-9 record. Due to the tiebreaker, Bills fans clearly should be rooting for one of these teams. Which one? Keep reading.
Who the Bills can pass (with a loss to the New York Jets)…
New Orleans (6-9)
- The Bills and Saints currently have the same opponent strength of schedule, so, a Saints victory over Atlanta puts them right in the realm to be passed by the Bills, with some other things happening to. The two teams that can push New Orleans’ strength of schedule higher are the Detroit Lions, and the Arizona Cardinals.
- They’re only slightly trailing the Bills in the tiebreak, which means the Bills will need not only Philadelphia to beat the New York Giants, but for the two games that can affect the Eagles opponent strength of schedule to go their way as well. And, the Bills are in luck, because the two teams they need to root for are the same ones that they need to pass New Orleans: Detroit and Arizona.
One of Detroit/Chicago (6-9)
- The Bills clearly have the edge in the tiebreak over both the Lions and the Bears, so a Bills loss, paired with one of these two teams winning will result in Buffalo moving up a spot. However, it would be most beneficial to the Bills if the Lions were to beat the Bears, because of how important that game is to the tiebreaker with both the Saints and the Eagles
- It’s a lot more simple here. If the Colts beat the Titans, and the Bills lose to the Jets, Buffalo will pass Indianapolis in the draft order. If the Colts lose to the Titans, regardless of a Bills loss, Buffalo will not be able to pass the Colts even with a tie in opponent strength of schedule (which is the best possible result) because of the Bills win over the Colts in Week 1 of the season.
The Bills could also use these things to happen…
Baltimore (5-10) to beat Cincinnati (11-4)
- The Bills obviously can’t catch the Ravens, but, the Bengals are one of the two teams that can negatively affect the Bills opponent strength of schedule with a victory. A Ravens victory would help.
Oakland (7-8) to beat Kansas City (10-5)
- This serves two purposes for the Bills. First, it would remove Oakland, who is trailing but within striking distance to them in opponent strength of schedule, from the equation to pass the Bills at a 7-9 scenario. However, it also helps the Bills because the Chiefs are the other team that can negatively affect Buffalo’s opponent strength of schedule with a victory.
Pittsburgh (9-6) to beat Cleveland (3-12)
- This would help the Bills only in the event of them being tied with the Oakland Raiders, whether it be at 7-9 or at 8-8, to help assure that Oakland doesn’t pass Buffalo in the draft order.
St. Louis (7-8) to beat San Francisco (4-11)
- The Rams cannot pass the Bills in a tiebreaker at 7-9. They can, however, pass the Bills if Buffalo were to beat the New York Jets, and if the Rams were to lose to the 49ers.
So in all, for the optimal Bills draft pick (with a loss to the New York Jets), root for…
New Orleans over Atlanta
Philadelphia over New York Giants
Detroit over Chicago
Arizona over Seattle
Indianapolis over Tennessee
Baltimore over Cincinnati
Oakland over Kansas City
Pittsburgh over Cleveland
St. Louis over San Francisco
So, then with a loss, what’s the best they could pick?
If they beat the Jets, what’s the worst they could pick?
- Oakland, St. Louis, and Atlanta could all pass the Bills if Buffalo were to get to 8-8.
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