Welcome to the sixth 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 #5 Review
The Bills took care of their business in a massive way with a 38-20 drubbing of the Chiefs. Outside of that, Buffalo got some big time help from the Buccaneers over Dolphins, Packers over Bengals, Chargers over Browns, and Bears over Raiders. All of this sets the Bills on a path where they all but control their own destiny in the AFC. Bills Mafia will be looking for some more help in Week 6 but, with the way the Bills are playing right now, they may not need it.
Rooting Interests Record: 39-36 (LW 9-6)
Rooting Interests 👏 +/-: +24 (LW +10 👏)
Buccaneers @ Eagles (Thursday 8:20PM) 👏
With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Bills have just four against teams with a winning record, their December matchup with the Buccaneers being one of them. This week though, the Bucs head to Philly to take on a subpar Eagles team. There’s not much at play here other than a small boost to SOS and possibly SOV. So, while Bills Mafia may not like rooting for a team quarterbacked by their one time Archnemesis, it’s optimal to do so this week.
Optimal Outcome: Buccaneers Victory
Dolphins @ Jaguars (Sunday 9:30AM) 👏 👏 👏
The battle for second-best Florida team is a clash of Titanic proportions that will see Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars take on Jacoby Brissett’s Dolphins. Europe is blessed with yet another exhilarating display of American Football. As for the members of Bills Mafia willing to wake up early and watch this game, who to root for remains a fair question. Soon the same strategy we apply to the Jets will apply to the Dolphins, but not for their potential. Root against them while knowing the plans to do just the opposite are coming soon.
Optimal Outcome: Jaguars Victory
Chiefs @ Washington (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏
Just five weeks into the season and the Bills have beaten the two teams in this game by a combined 40 points. The Chiefs are a surprising 2-3 and at the bottom of the AFC West. With Washington not representing a threat to the Bills, the Chiefs’ continued trek into irrelevance is desirable. Root for the expansion of the Bills lead over the Chiefs to balloon from 2.5 games to 3.5 games as Buffalo heads into their bye week.
Optimal Outcome: Washington Victory
Rams @ Giants (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏
There is just two NFC non-Bills opponent matchups on the Week 6 schedule. This is the first of them. In such matchups, we look to reduce the SOV and SOS of the Bills’ AFC competition. In that regard, the Rams take on the AFC South this season, as well as the Ravens. To date, their only foray into those games is a victory over the Colts. Meanwhile, the Giants see the AFC West this season as well as the Dolphins. So far, they have only lost to the Broncos. This is basically a pick’em of a game with the optimal outcome following which division is more likely to produce a team with a comparable record to the Bills. AFC South or AFC West? Root against the team that sees the better division this season.
Optimal Outcome: Rams Victory
Texans @ Colts (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏
The AFC South is clearly the worst division in the NFL, yet they can still be competitive at times. The Texans almost stole one from New England in Week 5, while the Colts did the same against the Ravens. But close only counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades and the records in the AFC South remain dismal. From a rooting perspective, we are talking SOV here and since the Bills already have a win over the Texans one outcome guarantees an SOV boost. We root for that.
Optimal Outcome: Texans Victory
Bengals @ Lions (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏
The Bengals are coming off a week in which they went toe-to-toe with a solid Packers team, while the Lions lost another heart breaker, this time to the Vikings. Cincy very well could be a problem come season’s end. The optimal rooting interest for Bills fans is clear. Root for our NFC Lake Erie Bro to nip that problem in the bud and get one Dan Campbell his first win. (He deserves it.)
Optimal Outcome: Lions Victory
Packers @ Bears (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏
Packers-Bears is the second NFC non-Bills opponent game this week. This one is a bit easier to cover as the NFC North plays the AFC North this season. The only difference in AFC schedule between these two being that the Packers additionally play the Chiefs while the Bears play the Raiders. In such games thus far, the Packers have beaten the Steelers & Bengals while the Bears have beaten the Bengals and Raiders with a loss to the Browns. Only one outcome guarantees an SOV bump for an AFC competitor, therefore we root for the opposite to happen.
Optimal Outcome: Packers Victory
Chargers @ Ravens (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏
Arguably the biggest non-Bills game of the week puts the Bills’ two biggest (current) challengers for the #1 seed against each other. The Chargers have what is possibly the most potent offense in the NFL outside of Buffalo with talent to spare on defense. Meanwhile, the Ravens have Lamar Jackson, who is capable of willing the Ravens to victory any week of the season. The Optimal Outcome here comes down to a guess on which of these two teams is better. An argument could be made either way. At this point though, one team has potential through the roof. So, for now, the optimal outcome is to root against them.
Optimal Outcome: Ravens Victory
Vikings @ Panthers (Sunday 1:00PM) 👏
It’s been an odd start to the season for both the Vikings and the Panthers. The Vikings have lost close contests to the Bengals, Cardinals, and Browns but have victories over the Seahawks and Lions. The Panthers have victories over the Jets, Saints, and Texans with losses to the Cowboys and Eagles. At the end of the day for Bills Mafia, this is all moot as the Bills game against the Panthers later in the season means a victory by them jumps Buffalo’s SOS and possibly SOV. That’s the optimal rooting interest.
Optimal Outcome: Panthers Victory
Cardinals @ Browns (Sunday 4:05PM) 👏 👏 👏
The Cardinals remain the lone undefeated team in the NFL and the Browns remain in contention for the AFC North title. A greater emphasis may be applied to scouting the Cardinals for a possible February meet up but, in this game, that’s not our primary focus. Our primary rooting interest is a loss for another AFC competitor, that’s achieved by maintaining the blemish free record of the Cardinals.
Optimal Outcome: Cardinals Victory
Raiders @ Broncos (Sunday 4:25PM) 👏 👏 👏
Two weeks ago, the Raiders and Broncos were 3-0, fast forward to the present and each is 3-2. Odds suggest that one of these teams is a pretender and the other a possible contender. Let’s do our best Inspector Gadget impersonation and figure out which is which. The Raiders have beaten the Ravens (4-1), Steelers (2-3), and Dolphins (1-4). The Broncos have beaten the Giants (1-4), Jaguars (0-5), and Jets (1-4). This means one team has an SOV of .467 and the other an SOV of .133. We have discovered who is who and with this knowledge we can now properly root against the contender.
Optimal Outcome: Broncos Victory
Cowboys @ Patriots (Sunday 4:25PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏
The NFL will bill this game as one of the biggest of Week 6’s slate… it shouldn’t be. I will concede the Cowboys may be the class of the NFC East, better known as the worst division in the NFC. I won’t concede anything on the Patriots, who are coming off a week in which they nearly lost to Davis Mills’ Texans. This is an average game at best, but an average game that includes the Bills’ biggest “competition” in the division. Root for the Bills divisional lead to grow even further prior to Buffalo taking the field Monday night.
Optimal Outcome: Cowboys Victory
Seahawks @ Steelers (Sunday 8:20PM) 👏 👏 👏
The Steelers proved the Broncos’ “Paper Tiger” status by handing them a loss at Heinz Field on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Seahawks all but saw their season end with QB Russell Wilson going down with an extended injury. This means that, this week, our rooting interest lies with an old friend who’s looking for his first career victory against the Steelers, a career which began in 2013. Here’s to looking for Geno to act like Tarantino and surprise everyone (on Sunday night).
Optimal Outcome: Seahawks Victory
Bills @ Titans (Monday 8:15PM) 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏
The 2020 Revenge Tour has officially begun with the Bills destruction of the Kansas City Chiefs. Now the Tour rolls to Nashville where the Bills will play a pseudo-home game in front of Bills Mafia. Check off team two on the Revenge Tour and rest easy with Buffalo going into their bye at 5-1.
Optimal Outcome: Bills 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.
|6||Bengals*||3-3||1-0 DIV, 2-0 WLC|
|11||Texans||2-4||H2H Win over Colts, 2-3 WLC|
|14||Colts||1-5||1-3 WLC, H2H Win over Dolphins|
|15||Dolphins||1-5||H2H Loss to Colts|
** Division Leader