Buffalo Bills' playoff fate remains unknown as Steelers beat Ravens


Staff member

The Buffalo Bills took a circuitous path during the 2023 season, so it makes sense that they head into Sunday's final day of the regular season not knowing if they will arrive at their preferred destination: The postseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' 17-10 victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday prevented the Bills from clinching an AFC playoff spot. A tie in Saturday night's game between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans also could have punched the Bills’ playoff ticket, but the Texans earned a 23-19 win.

The Bills still could know they are in the playoffs before taking the field Sunday night in Miami if the Tennessee Titans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 1 p.m. game Sunday, or the teams tie.

Either way, there is still plenty at stake for the Bills in the regular season finale, with the AFC East title on the line. Along with that comes the No. 2 seed in the postseason, which guarantees home-field advantage at least through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

With a loss, the Bills could be the sixth seed, the seventh seed or not in the playoffs at all, depending on the Jaguars-Titans outcome.

So while it is unknown, at least for now, whether the Bills face exactly a must-win game, the game in Miami will have significant implications.
“We've been in this situation for weeks, and our players, our team, are very resilient,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said Friday. “We're led by our leaders, and those guys have done a phenomenal job leading this team, and we've been through a lot, even going back to last season. So you learn from those experiences and you lean on those experiences moving forward.”

The Bills’ season got off to a flat start with an overtime loss to the New York Jets on "Monday Night Football." They rebounded to run off three straight wins in dominant fashion, and it looked as though they were going to cruise to their fifth straight playoff appearance and sixth in McDermott’s seven seasons as head coach.

Instead, a trip to London for a Week 5 game against the Jaguars resulted in a disastrous loss that saw both linebacker Matt Milano and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones suffer long-term injuries – a week after cornerback Tre’Davious White did the same. Starting with that loss to the Jaguars, the Bills would go on to lose five of their next seven games, dropping to 6-6 on the season.

During that stretch, McDermott fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, replacing him on an interim basis with quarterbacks coach Joe Brady. Brady's first game came against the Jets in Week 11, and resulted in a 32-6 win. Although the Bills would lose the following week 37-34 to the Philadelphia Eagles in overtime, the offense took a step forward.

“I think, more than anything, there was an identity that started to take shape after that game,” McDermott said. “Obviously, the change was made. But sometimes, what's more impactful is how people respond to the change and how people respond in adverse situations. So I started to see our team coming together, I started to see an identity start to form and be built and take shape. The credit goes to the players for taking the reins at that point, and not just with their play, but their day-to-day approach. I think that's probably the biggest thing overall.”

The Bills have run off four straight victories since that loss to the Eagles, starting after their bye week with a visit to the Kansas City Chiefs. A dominating victory over the Dallas Cowboys followed, then two straight too-close-for-comfort wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots to set the stage for Sunday night in the last game of the NFL regular season.