Buffalo Bills Thursday Thought: Potential Wild Card Matchups Rankings

With the playoffs just over the horizon, it’s been a hell of a regular season for the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen has put himself in the MVP conversation as he’s thrown for 4,320 yards and 34 touchdowns, both franchise single-season records. Stefon Diggs has been arguably the best receiver in football. He too broke franchise records once held by Eric Moulds in receptions and yards. The Bills have a top-five offense in football and their defense is playing lights out.

As we go into Week 17 there are many different scenarios at play with seeding in the AFC. The Bills could play a multitude of different teams. With five teams battling for four playoff spots, it will be interesting to see where things stand once the dust settles. Who would be the best matchup for the Bills? Who would be the worst? This week’s Thought: Potential Wild Card Matchups Rankings.

I’ll be ranking the matchups one through five. One being the team that would be the best matchup for the Bills and five being the worst matchup.

  1. Miami Dolphins
Dec 22, 2019; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins fullback Christian Wilkins (94) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins are not a bad team by any means. Their defense is elite. They have forced the most turnovers in the league this season with 27. Players like Kyle Van Noy, Xavien Howard, and Emmanuel Ogbah will not make things easy for anyone. Offensively the Dolphins have some nice playmakers in Mike Gesicki and Devante Parker. However rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has had some inconsistencies lately. He’s averaging just 6.3 yards per attempt and has been benched twice this season.

The Dolphins land at the top of the list due to their lack of playoff experience. Especially at head coach and quarterback. Although Brian Flores was on the New England Patriots coaching staff for several years, it’s much different being a head coach in the playoffs than an assistant coach. Both Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick have never experienced a playoff game before as the intensity of the playoffs can be an eye-opening experience for most first-time players. On top of that, the Bills know the Dolphins very well. If they were to play each other in the playoffs it would be the third time these two teams face off.

2. Cleveland Browns

Oct 11, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws a pass over Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Denico Autry (96 during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns have been a tricky team to get a grasp on all season. Their run game has been elite with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt all season long. Baker Mayfield has been leaps and bounds better without Odell Beckham Jr. which is confusing. Their defensive front has been dominant but their secondary has struggled significantly. Some believe they’re the biggest threat to the Chiefs in the AFC. To those people, I say to pump the breaks.

As Colin Cowherd said on his radio show the Browns seem very similar to the 2015 Dallas Cowboys. A great offensive line and running game. A defense that has some big-time players, but as a unit isn’t anything special. Led by a quarterback that’s talented yet a little limited. The Browns are good enough to win a playoff game but feel like a one-and-done team. Like Miami, Kevin Stefanski has never been a head coach for a playoff game and Baker Mayfield has never played in a playoff game. Their roster as a whole has very little playoff experience.

3. Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17)] throws against the New York Jets in the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The Colts have been a weird team all season. Seemingly out of nowhere their defense is tremendous. Led by Darius Leonard and Kenny Moore, they have been a tough group to move the ball on all season. DeForest Buckner has also had a great season with 7.5 sacks. It’s their offense that has been hard to figure out rather than their defense.

They run the ball very well with one of the best offensive lines in the league. Rookie Jonathan Taylor has been great this season, he’s nearing 1,000 yards and has nine touchdowns. However, Philip Rivers is a bit unpredictable. He had over a 100 QBR in eight games this season. Yet he had six games with a QBR below 90. It all depends on which Rivers shows up. If he’s playing well the Colts are good as any team. If he’s off then the Colts are very beatable.

4. Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs down the sidelines for a touchdown during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)

The Titans are a very dangerous team and will likely win the AFC South this season. If they don’t they will be a very tough team for anyone to face in the playoffs. Their running game with Derrick Henry is fantastic as Henry will defend his rushing title from last season with over 1,700 yards rushing this season. Ryan Tannehill has proved that he is more than just a one year wonder. He’s having a great season as he’s thrown for a career-high 32 touchdowns. The combination of A.J. Brown and Corey Davis has been a handful for defenses this season.

However, the reason why they’re not the worst matchup for the Bills is their defense is bad. They are ranked 28th in total defense and are dead last in sacks this season. Although their offense can score a lot of points and move the ball up and down the field, their defense can’t stop a nose bleed. It’s a big reason why many feel the Titans will not go as far as they should in the playoffs this season.

5. Baltimore Ravens

Dec 20, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws to wide receiver Dez Bryant (not pictured) for a second quarter touchdown as Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson (45) defends at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens are by far the scariest team to face in the first round. Lamar Jackson, a former MVP, is playing great football down the stretch. After a slow start to the season, Jackson has hit a grove. John Harbaugh is a great coach who has won a super bowl and knows what it takes to make a deep run in the playoffs. Additionally, rookie J.K. Dobbins has been running the ball well for the Ravens.

The Defense is good as usual in Baltimore. A top 10 defense that is led by Matt Judon and Marlon Humphrey. They currently are the fourth-ranked defense in points allowed per game. They are a very good team and have a complete roster top to bottom minus one position. The only weakness they have is at wide receiver. Marquise Brown has been disappointing up to this point and 32-year-old Dez Bryant is someone whom they rely on in the red zone. If the Ravens have to throw the ball it could be problematic as Mark Andrews is their only reliable pass catcher. However, if they are playing with a lead they could be dangerous.

Overall Thoughts:

Oct 6, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) signals from the line during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

All the teams in the AFC playoffs are very good and could make a deep run in the playoffs this season. No one will be an easy out as every team has got some really good strengths and players. However, just as no one wants to play the Raven or the Titans, remember this Bills fans; No one, and I mean no one, wants to play the Bills round one. We are no longer the David we are the Goliath. So whoever stands in the way of the Buffalo Bills will have to bring their A-game.

What do you think? Who would be the worst matchup for the Bills and who would be the best? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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