Obviously, the idea of the Miami Dolphins making the playoffs this season is a hot topic right now. With the Pittsburgh Steelers loss yesterday, the 6&8 Dolphins were suddenly given a life-line to the postseason. But, what will it take to get the Dolphins into the tournament? Well, besides a Saturnalia miracle.
Before we get into this, let's be clear. It's not likely. Don't start expecting the Dolphins to be in the playoffs this year. Don't raise those expectations again, because you will most likely be disappointed again. This is not the year for Miami to be in the playoffs. But, that does not mean we cannot enjoy the fact that the Dolphins are playing late season football with playoff implications. That is not something we are used to as Dolphins fans, and it is something we really should just sit back and welcome - not something we should stress over.
For the Dolphins to make the playoffs, they are going to have to reach the best record they possibly can, which would be 8&8 this season. To get to that, Miami will have to exact revenge on both the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. The Bills head to Miami this week after beating the Dolphins in Buffalo back in Week 11. The Dolphins then head to Foxboro to face the Patriots in the season finale. New England beat Miami just two weeks ago in Sun Life Stadium.
Assuming the Dolphins beat both teams, their 8&8 record would get them, at best, the AFC's sixth seed. That brings us to the current sixth seed, the Cincinnati Bengals, who are 8&6 on the year. For the Dolphins to surpass the Bengals, Cincinnati will need to lose both of their remaining games. Cincinnati plays at the Pittsburgh Steelers next weekend, then host the Baltimore Ravens to end the year. Realistically, both of those games could be losses for the Bengals, and the Dolphins could see that happen.
In the seventh seed position right now are the Steelers. Obviously, the Dolphins have to see the 7&7 Steelers beat the Bengals next week, but then Pittsburgh would have to lose to Cleveland, in Pittsburgh, to fall to 8&8. Given that the Browns have played the Steelers 28 times since returning to the NFL in 1999, and only have beaten them five times, three times in the last 25 meetings, it is not a good bet that Cleveland would pull off the upset. Add in that the Browns actually beat the Steelers already this year, even if it was the Charlie Batch led Steelers, and the likelihood of this happening is even smaller. Things do not look good for the Dolphins when it comes to passing the Steelers.
The AFC's eighth seed, the New York Jets, actually have three games remaining, including tonight's Monday Night Football game against the Tennessee Titans. Sitting at 6&7 right now, the Jets need to lose at least one game the rest of the way, although two losses would remove a set of tie breakers and make it easier for the Dolphins. Other than the Titans, the Jets host the San Diego Chargers in Week 16, then head upstate to face the Bills in Week 17. The Jets could lose two of those games, but they could also win all three. New York really is a wild card in the chase for a Wild Card playoff position.
Of course, a lot has to happen for the Dolphins to make the playoffs. And, it is most likely not going to happen. But, at least we can still talk about it this late in the seasons.