Welcome to the third iteration of 2021’s “Buffalo Bills Rooting Interests”! These posts are intended to provide Bills fans with the rationale behind who they should root for in every game in every week of the NFL regular season. Included is the Game Importance Scale which rates games from 👏👏👏👏👏 (Most Important) to 👏 (Least Important). Future additions to this series will be posted each week on Tuesday by 12:00PM ET.
Ties and injuries are not considered in this discussion. Tiebreakers that are considered for overall standings are as follows:
- H2H: Head-to-Head
- WLC: Win/Loss in Conference
- WLG: Win/Loss in Common Games (min 4)
- SOV: Strength of Victory
- SOS: Strength of Schedule
Week #2 Review
There was some good, and some bad that came from Week 2 of the NFL Season. The Bills won by 35, the Raiders took down the Steelers, and the Ravens beat the Chiefs. That’s the good. The bad came in the form of Patriots, Broncos, and Browns wins. Still, this was an all-around important week for the Bills and could have major ramifications as the season comes to a close. Here’s to hoping for continued support of our Rooting Interests, and more importantly dominating performances by the Buffalo Bills.
Rooting Interests Record: 15-15 (LW 7-8)
Rooting Interests 👏 +/-: +5 (LW 0 👏)
Panthers @ Texans (Thursday 8:20PM) 👏 👏
The Texans have already surpassed the expectations of many and in doing so have become a much more formidable Week 4 opponent for the Bills. Before that clash the Texans will take on Bills South in an NFC vs. AFC matchup. This early in the season such inter-conference games are predetermined in the context of Rooting Interests.
Optimal Outcome: Panthers Victory
Colts @ Titans (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏
The Colts are one of seven remaining winless teams while the Titans got their first via a dramatic overtime win in Seattle. The sleeping giant in Indianapolis seems to be nothing more than a myth while the Titans appear destined for back-to-back AFC South titles. If this does occur, then the Bills will likely be scrambling for seeding with the Titans. Root accordingly.
Optimal Outcome: Colts Victory
Falcons @ Giants (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏
There are four 0-2 teams in the NFC. After this game their will likely be one less. These two NFC teams provide no direct threat to the Bills playoff aspirations, but one does impact a few tiebreakers. With the Bills playing the Falcons this season, there are SOS, and possibly SOV, increases on the line here.
Optimal Outcome: Falcons Victory
Chargers @ Chiefs (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏
What’s the most surprising phrase you can say so far regarding the 2021 NFL season? I’ll start: the Chargers and Chiefs are the bottom feeders of the AFC West. Still, it seems each of these teams are not only capable of competing for the division title but possibly even a Super Bowl. One of them is a known favorite to hoist the Lombardi trophy, so this early in the season we root for the team from California to beat the team from Missouri.
Optimal Outcome: Chargers Victory
Bengals @ Steelers (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏
The Steelers suffered what is a very important defeat to the Raiders in Week 2 (for the Bills) while the Bengals lost a much less crucial contest to the Bears. Still, the Steelers maintain the all-important H2H tiebreaker over the Bills, so until there is significant separation between the two, we root for most opponents of Pittsburgh.
Optimal Outcome: Bengals Victory
Bears @ Browns (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏
Through 2 weeks, the Browns have lost to the Chiefs and beaten the Texans, two vastly different opponents. They still have the talent to compete for a Super Bowl title and remain a threat in the AFC North. Meanwhile, the Bears membership in the NFC makes them a non-threat to the Bills regular season aspirations, resulting in easy optimization of this game.
Optimal Outcome: Bears Victory
Ravens @ Lions (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏
What exactly are the Ravens? We know they are an injury plagued team led by a dynamic QB. We know that they struggled at times in an OT loss to the Raiders but that they also came back to shock a really good Chiefs team. What they are moving forward will be something to monitor in a very competitive AFC North. But, when playing an NFC team, like for instance the Lake Erie Bro Detroit Lions, our Rooting Interest is decided for us.
Optimal Outcome: Lions Victory
Saints @ Patriots (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏
The Patriots could very easily be 2-0 and at the top of the AFC East if not for a 1-point loss to the Dolphins. While a victory over the Jets isn’t at all impressive, the Patriots still pose a moderate threat to the Bills’ quest to repeat as AFC East champions. Couple that with a matchup against an NFC team, one the Bills play in 2021, and we know who to root for.
Optimal Outcome: Saints Victory
Cardinals @ Jaguars (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏
The Jaguars could very well be the worst team in the NFL while the Cardinals could very well be the best team. This game opened with Cardinals -9.5 but could quite possibly go even higher than that. The shift to rooting for the Jaguars in order to negate draft position for an AFC team could happen sooner than thought. However, at least for now, NFC vs. AFC means root for NFC.
Optimal Outcome: Cardinals Victory
Washington @ Bills (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏
A battle of division leaders sees a team with no name travel to Buffalo. Simple as simple gets, a Bills win maintains first place in the AFC East. Let’s keep rolling.
Optimal Outcome: Bills Victory
Jets @ Broncos (Sunday 4:05PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏
The Broncos are quietly 2-0 and, at least for now, seem to have been the right choice for dark horse AFC Contender. Careful about kicking that dark horse up to a full gallop just yet as their wins have come against the Giants and Jaguars. A matchup with the Jets should maintain a comfortable canter for the Broncos but a tough stretch awaits. For now, we have to root against an AFC East team in order to build division separation. After all, we do want the Jets to finish in last place in the AFC East for the 5th time in the past 6 seasons, right?
Optimal Outcome: Broncos Victory
Dolphins @ Raiders (Sunday 4:05PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏
The Dolphins thought they were the class of the AFC East after 1 week, after 2 weeks they know they are far from that. Meanwhile the Raiders yes, the Derek Carr led Raiders, sit atop the AFC West with victories over the Ravens and Steelers. Like the Jets game, for now we look for separation in the AFC East. This could change quickly as the season progresses.
Optimal Outcome: Raiders Victory
Seahawks @ Vikings (Sunday 4:25PM) 👏
There are 3 NFC only non-Bills opponent games this week, with this being the first of them. As the season progresses, we will look much deeper into the impact of such games on SOS & SOV for other AFC contenders, but for now we look to an important game in February. Which of these teams is a bigger threat to win a Super Bowl? Let’s simplify the question, who is more dangerous, Russell Wilson or Kirk Cousins?
Optimal Outcome: Vikings Victory
Buccaneers @ Rams (Sunday 4:25PM) 👏
One of the better matchups this early in the season could easily be a preview of the NFC Championship. Stafford’s Rams vs. Brady’s Bucs in a game any AFC Contender should keep an eye on for a preview of what may await them at Super Bowl LVI. Also important to the Bills, they play the Bucs this season meaning if the outcome of this game finishes one way Buffalo will see an SOS, and possibly SOV, increase.
Optimal Outcome: Buccaneers Victory
Packers @ 49ers (Sunday 8:20PM) 👏
The Packers are in the NFC, the 49ers are in the NFC. The Bills don’t play the Packers in the regular season, the Bills don’t play the 49ers in the regular season. Now imagine it is cabbage month, and the Bills have to play one of these teams, who do you want?
Optimal Outcome: 49ers Victory
Eagles @ Cowboys (Monday 8:15PM) 👏
Eagles vs. Cowboys is always an enticing matchup to watch but, in 2021, doesn’t mean much to the Buffalo Bills. For the last time this week, we talk about a game in the shortest month of the year. Unlikely as it is, if one of these teams were to make it to said game who would you be most comfortable playing?
Optimal Outcome: Eagles Victory
If all the above games were to go the optimal route, it would result in the following AFC standings (all tiebreakers considered). For the first few weeks of the season, the assumption is that unknown tiebreakers favor the Bills.
|4||Colts**||1-2||1-0 DIV, 1-0 WLC|
|7||Texans*||1-2||1-0 DIV, 1-1 WLC|
|14||Titans||1-2||0-1 DIV, 0-1 WLC|
** Division Leader