The NFL's Week 12 schedule begins with the three-game fest that is Thanksgiving. This year, it is an all NFC Thanksgiving, so there is not a lot of impact on the Miami Dolphins' Wildcard chances in the AFC, but there are still reasons to root for specific teams today, as well as throughout the rest of the weekend. Here is a guide to rooting for all this week's games.
AFC teams will have their records indicated, while NFC teams will not (since their records do not impact Miami's Wildcard chances as much). NFC versus NFC games are not included, unless there are tiebreak (or undefeated season) reasons to root for a specific team.
On to the guide:
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
The first Thanksgiving day game has ramifications for the Dolphins. The Dolphins beat the Eagles two weeks ago, which means every win the Eagles get assists Miami's strength of victory and strength of schedule, which could play into the tie breakers - especially with the Jets having already lost to the Eagles and the Bills still to play them. With the Eagles being an NFC team, their overall record has no other bearing on the Dolphins' playoff chances, so the Eagles winning is good for Miami. Root for: Philadelphia.
Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys
The second Thanksgiving game has two reasons to interest Dolphins fans. The first is for the playoff chances. If strength of schedule comes into play for the Dolphins, the Cowboys winning helps Miami. The second is the Perfect Season, with Carolina currently sitting at 10-0, the Cowboys winning knocks the number of undefeated teams down to one. Root for: Dallas.
New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans (5-5)
Houston is a game ahead of Miami right now at 5-5 on the year and are facing an NFC team. This is pretty straight forward - Miami needs Houston to lose, and the Saints winning does not impact Miami. Root for: New Orleans.
St. Louis Rams at Cincinnati Bengals (8-2)
This game really does not have much of an impact on the Dolphins. The Rams are an NFC team, the Bengals are an AFC team, so it makes sense to root for St. Louis. Root for: St. Louis.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
This game is just like the Eagles game. Miami can use the win for the Redskins, having already beat Washington. That would improve the strength of schedule and strength of victory. Two NFC East teams facing off really does not impact Miami other than in the tiebreaks, and Miami does have a shot at the Giants as well later in the schedule, so at the end of the day, a win from either team can help the Dolphins. Root for: Washington, just because it will add to the craziness of this year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
Indianapolis and Houston are tied for the AFC South lead, with the Colts holding on to the division lead via tiebreaks at this point. Miami has the head-to-head tie break over the Texans, so it is better for Miami if Indianapolis wins the AFC South, with the Texans vying for the Wildcard. The Buccaneers are an NFC team, so their record does not factor into the Playoff chances for Miami. Root for: Indianapolis.
Buffalo Bills (5-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-5)
This is a tough one because both teams are sitting in front of Miami, with Kansas City currently in the Wildcard position. The Dolphins have to catch both teams in order to make the Playoffs, so a loss from either is helpful. The Dolphins, however, have to not just catch, but pass, the Bills because Buffalo swept Miami this year, so the sooner the Bills fall behind the Dolphins in the standings, the better. Root for: Chiefs.
Oakland Raiders (4-6) at Tennessee Titans (2-8)
The Titans are in the hunt for the first overall pick, while the Raiders are still in the Wildcard hunt. Knocking the Raiders down is the best outcome for Miami. Root for: Tennessee.
San Diego Chargers (2-8) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6)
Jacksonville is currently ahead of Miami in the AFC Wildcard race due to tiebreaks. The Chargers are down with the Titans at the bottom of the AFC standings. Miami needs the Jaguars to lose, even if this is a west coast team making the cross-country trip for a 1pm game. Root for: San Diego.
Miami Dolphins (4-6) at New York Jets (5-5)
Pretty straight forward here, right? Root for: Miami.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at Seattle Seahawks
The Steelers are trying to chase down the Bengals on top of the AFC North. They are currently sitting in the fifth position in the playoffs, and are two games ahead of Miami. The Steelers losing could ultimately bring both Wildcard spots back into play for Miami, so that is better way to go. Root for: Seattle.
New England Patriots (10-0) at Denver Broncos (8-2)
The Patriots have run away with the AFC East again, while the Broncos are three games clear in the AFC West. Neither team appears to have much impact on the Dolphins' chances of earning a Wildcard (other than the Patriots playing Miami at the end of the year). This comes down to the Perfect Season and needing the Patriots to lose to protect the 1972 team's legacy. Root for: Denver.
Baltimore Ravens (3-7) at Cleveland Browns (2-8)
The Ravens and the Browns are at the bottom of the AFC standings, so this game does not have much in terms of impact on Miami's chances right now. Miami faces the Ravens later in the season, so a win could help the Dolphins in terms of strength of victory and strength of schedule. A win by Baltimore, though, does keep them, at worst, a game behind Miami, making Cleveland winning this game a better outcome for the Dolphins. Root for: Cleveland.