When I finally had time today to check in at the site, I saw that we had about six new fanposts regarding the different playoff scenarios. So I decided to delete all but the two posts that were created first (and are very well detailed - here and here) and make this one that will hopefully make things very simple for everyone to understand.
Keep in mind that all of these scenarios are based on the Dolphins winning their remaining three games. If they do not win out, then the scenarios below are worthless.
Here's how the Dolphins can make the playoffs if they win their last three games:
A) A loss by the Patriots.
B) A loss by the Ravens.
C) A loss by the Broncos to either the Raiders or Chiefs.
That's the situation in a nut shell. If you want more details as to why, then continue reading below...
It would give the Dolphins the AFC East title. If the Pats lose to Buffalo, then Miami wins the division based on division record tie-breaker. If they lose to Houston or Jacksonville, then the Dolphins would win the division based on the conference record tie-breaker. Either way, a Pat loss means a Dolphins division title.
If both the Dolphins and Ravens win out, then the Ravens would have the tie-breaker over the Dolphins. Why? The first tie-breaker is head-to-head and that's irrelevant here. The second is conference record and both would have only 4 conference losses. The third tie-breaker is record in common games. The Dolphins and Ravens have played four common opponents (NE, SD, Indy, Pitt). In this scenario, the Ravens would be 3-2 against those teams while the Dolphins would be 2-3. Even though their games against each opponent vary (Miami played Pats twice and Steelers once while the Ravens played the Steelers twice and Pats once), ALL 5 GAMES still count. This is a fact, as I checked with the NFL by e-mailing the Senior VP of Public Relations Greg Aiello.
If the Dolphins win out but the Ravens do as well, Miami can still get into the post-season if the Broncos lose one of their two remaining conference games. A loss to either the Raiders or Chiefs would give Denver their 6th loss of the season and 5th loss within the AFC. Therefore, the Dolphins - with only 4 conference losses - would get into the playoffs.
If the Broncos 6th loss came against the Eagles, then the Dolphins could still make the playoffs. It would come down to the "strength of victory" calculation - which is not really a calculation we could predict without getting into various debates over which teams will win which remaining games.
Why are the Jaguars still ranked as the final wildcard team?
This has been asked a lot. The reason is that the Jags still only have 3 conference losses. So don't we have to worry about the Jaguars? What if they win out? Wouldn't they get into the playoffs ahead of the Dolphins?
Well you probably didn't notice that one of Jacksonville's remaining games is against the Patriots. So if the Jaguars win out, that means the Dolphins would be AFC East champions. Therefore, their finish to the season is irrelevant in terms of the Dolphins' wildcard chances.
I hope this clears a lot of things up. Please keep all playoff scenario talk in this post or in one of the two fanposts I linked to earlier. Do not start a new post with more playoff scenario talk.
And if you have any questions, be sure to ask.
But please keep in mind the most important aspect of all these playoff scenarios. The Dolphins must win their final three games.
Let's take care of our own business and see what happens!