The Miami Dolphins' 2015 regular season has not gone as anyone expected, but the team is still in the middle of the NFL Playoffs picture, despite a 3-4 record. They are not yet in control of their own destiny, but they are not completely out of the running, especially in an AFC that only has five teams with a winning record through the first eight weeks of the season. Yesterday, we broke down the full AFC Playoff picture, so today, we will break down the NFL's Week 9 schedule, with your rooting guide to help Miami's playoff positioning.
For the history of the Undefeated Season, it makes sense to want to see the Bengals lose, knocking them from the ranks of the unbeaten. That, however, would be counter Miami's playoff hopes this year, because it would keep the Browns in the running for a Wildcard berth. Sitting at 3-6, despite the record, would keep them in the two-games back realm, rather than crushing any outside playoff chances they might have. Root for: Cincinnati.
The Redskins have no impact on Miami's Playoff chances, so this is an easy game to determine for the rooting guide. This is all about the AFC East and the Undefeated Season. The Patriots do not lose at home, but someone has to break that trend. We can all hope Washington is able to do it. A Washington win would also help Miami in the strength of victory tie break. Root for: Washington.
This game really has no bearing on Miami's Playoff chances, given how far back the Titans are at the moment and that the Saints are in the NFC. I guess rooting for the NFC team makes the most sense. Root for: New Orleans.
Dolphins (3-4) at Bills (3-4)
Come on, do you really have to ask for whom you should root here? A win would keep Miami about a game out of the final Wildcard slot, depending on how everything else falls, while a loss could just about kill any chance for Miami, especially since it would mean a season sweep for the Bills, ending any chance of a tie break option over Buffalo, and an 0-4 record in the AFC East. Root for: Miami.
The Jets currently hold the head-to-head tie break over the Dolphins, but the two teams will face-off again later this year. Getting them to 4-4 and in a tie in second place in the Division is critical. The Jaguars getting to three wins would keep them in the Playoff picture, but a loss for the team ahead of Miami is the right way to go on this game. Root for: Jacksonville.
This is one of the hardest games to figure out. Both teams are ahead of Miami, so a loss by either actually helps. The Steelers should be getting better now that Ben Roethlisberger is back, but the loss of Le'Veon Bell will be felt. The Raiders have the better AFC record right now, which would play into tie break situations, so it could make sense to want Oakland to lose. Pittsburgh has games against Denver and Cincinnati still on the schedule while Oakland has Denver and Green Bay. Rooting for PIttsburgh here makes sense to knock down the Raiders, but I am concerned about the Steelers clibing into the Wildcard picture. Root for: Oakland.
This is another game that you could make the argument either way, but if Indianapolis falls out of the division title chase, then figures out their problems, they could cause problems in the Wildcard. Denver appears a lock to win the AFC West, so a loss for them would not really cause any issues for Miami, but would help the Undefeated Season mark. The rest of the AFC South (i.e., Houston) is not likely to keep up in the Playoff/Division chase, but just in case, getting Indianapolis some wins is probably the safer bet right now. Root for: Indianapolis.
NFC team versus a potential AFC Wildcard contender. A pretty easy choice here. Root for: Chicago.
Post-Week 9 Standings (if everything happened according to this rooting guide):
1 - Cincinnati Bengals (8-0)
2 - Denver Broncos (7-1)
3 - New England Patriots (7-1)
4- Indianapolis Colts (3-5)
WC1 - Oakland Raiders (5-3)
WC2 - New York Jets (4-4)
Miami Dolphins (4-4)
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-5)
Buffalo Bills (3-5)
Kansas City Chiefs (3-5)
Houston Texans (3-5)
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5)
Baltimore Ravens (2-6)
Cleveland Browns (2-7)
San Diego Chargers (2-7)
Tennessee Titans (1-7)
The Dolphins could find themselves in a tie for the last Wildcard spot, losing out at this point to the Jets due to the Week 4 loss in London. Miami will get their shot to even the season record in Week 12.