The NFL season is preparing to start their Week 11 slate of games. As we do each week, we take a look at the current standings in the AFC, as well as looking at who the Miami Dolphins are facing, and how that game impacts the playoff picture.
AFC Playoff Picture (through Week 10):
1. New England Patriots (7-2) - AFC East division leaders
2. Denver Broncos (7-2) - AFC West division leaders
3. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) - AFC South division leaders
4. Cleveland Browns (6-3) - AFC North division leaders
5. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) - AFC West #2
6. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) - AFC North #2
AFC Playoff Contenders (through Week 10):
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)
Baltimore Ravens (6-4)
San Diego Chargers (5-4)
Buffalo Bills (5-4)
Miami Dolphins (5-4)
Houston Texans (4-5)
7-3 record teams: Patriots hold the head-to-head tie break over the Broncos.
6-3 record teams: Colts win the tie break over the Browns based on conference winning percentage.
6-4 record teams: Steelers win the tie break over the Ravens based on division winning percentage
5-4 record teams: In a multi-team tie, division tie breaks are used first to eliminate multiple teams from the same division. The Bills and Dolphins are both 5-4 from the AFC East, with the Bills holding the head-to-head tie break, eliminating the Dolphins. The Chargers then beat the Bills for the 9th position based on head-to-head record. The Bills take the 10th position and the Dolphins fall to the 11th spot.
The rest of the conference:
Tennessee Titans (2-7)
New York Jets (2-8)
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9)
Oakland Raiders (0-9)
None of the teams in the conference have been officially ruled out of the playoffs as of yet.
Dolphins upcoming opponents:
Buffalo Bills (5-4), 10th place AFC, 2nd Place AFC East
In terms of playoff picture, this game could be the most important one on Miami's schedule. The Bills are a division rival, have the same record as the Dolphins, and already beat Miami once this year. The Dolphins needs to level the head-to-head record so that does not become an issue later if the two teams are tied when the regular season comes to an end. To illustrate that point, the Dolphins hold the head-to-head tie break against the Chargers this season, meaning they would leap ahead of San Diego, if the division tie break rule did not eliminate Miami first.
A win in this game also keeps the AFC East door open for Miami, who currently holds the head-to-head tie break against the Patriots with one meeting still to go. While the Patriots have a two game advantage, getting to 6-4 makes a division title much easier to see for Miami than trying to come back from 5-5.
A win in this game also helps with the conference record and division record tie breaks, if those become necessary. Miami is currently 1-1 in the AFC East and 5-2 in the conference.
Three key AFC Week 10 games:
Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs (1pm ET Sunday) - This game being in Seattle would be better for Miami, instead of hoping the Seahawks can win in Arrowhead. The Dolphins need Kansas City to lose a couple of games over the last stretch of the season, eliminating the Chiefs from using their head-to-head tie break against the Dolphins.
New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (8:30pm ET Sunday) - If the Dolphins are going to make up two games on the AFC East leaders, this could be a key week to see that start. If Indianapolis were to win here, while Miami were to win against the Bills, that would pull the division to within just a game, with Miami still facing the Patriots this season and able to control their AFC East division destiny. After this game, the Patriots host the Detroit Lions, visit the Green Bay Packers and Chargers before a three week run through the AFC east to end the year. Miami is not out of the division hunt, and the Colts could be the first step in making that happen for Miami.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans (8:30pm ET Monday) - Tennessee is having a bad year, but an upset of the Steelers is not out of the question. The Dolphins could use a fifth loss for Pittsburgh, who lost last week to the Jets. A two-game losing streak before heading into their bye week followed by games against the New Orleans Saints and at the Bengals could knock the Steelers out of Miami's path to the postseason.
As he does every week, Phinsider author KIH004 will bring you a full breakdown of every team to root for during Week 9.