The Miami Dolphins are 5-7 and in last place in the AFC East. Somehow, heading into Week 14 of the NFL season, that record keeps them right on the edge of the AFC Playoff picture. Will the Dolphins make it to their first postseason since 2008? Probably not. Could the Dolphins make it? Possibly. So, why not take a look at exactly what needs to happen in Week 14 to help Miami's chances.
The AFC teams will have their records indicated in the matchups. Miami heads into this week 11th in the AFC Playoff standings, with the top six qualifying for the postseason.
Pretty straight forward on this one. Miami needs to get ahead of the Bills record wise, since Buffalo swept the season series on the Dolphins this year. Add in the bonus that, if Philadelphia wins, it helps MIami's strength of schedule and strength of victory, and everything points to the Dolphins wanting Buffalo to lose. Root for: Philadelphia.
Baltimore is currently 13th in the playoff standings, a game behind Miami. The Dolphins beat Baltimore last week, giving them the head-to-head tie break, so, potentially, a Baltimore win actually helps Miami in tiebreak scenarios. Weird things start happening when tie breaks come into the picture, however, so keeping Baltimore behind Miami in the standings may be the better way to go here. Root for: Seattle.
Miami does not play the Browns this year, and they are far enough back that this game has just about no real impact on Miami. You could go for either team, but, as a general rule, picking the NFC team over the AFC team is a better move. Root for: San Francisco.
Like the Bills, New York swept Miami this year so the Dolphins have to get ahead of the Jets in the standings. That is a tall order, given New York has a two game lead right now, but a loss this week will help. A win for Tennessee helps Miami's strength of victory and strength of schedule, so that can play into non-divisional tie breaks and assist Miami as well. Root for: Tennessee.
Pittsburgh is ahead of Miami in the Wildcard hunt, while the Bengals are running away with the AFC North. That means a Steelers loss helps Miami, while the Bengals win does not really impact the Dolphins. Root for: Cincinnati.
Either the Colts or Houston are going to win the AFC South, with the other falling into the Wildcard chase. Currently, Miami has a head-to-head advantage over Houston, while they still have to play the Colts. Jacksonville has the head-to-head advantage on Miami this year, so keeping them behind the Dolphins in the standings is important. That adds up to wanting Indianapolis to win here, keeping them in the lead of the division. Root for: Indianapolis.
The Chargers are having a miserable season, and, even though Miami will still play them this year, they really are not a factor in Miami's playoff chances, other than helping with tie breaks later. As for the Chiefs, they are currently holding of the AFC Wildcards, so Miami needs them to start losing to open up that spot. Root for: San Diego.
Denver is going to win the AFC West, while the Raiders are in position to challenge Miami for the random comeback from 5-7 to the postseason. That pretty much means the Broncos are not a concern for Miami's postseason chances, while the Raiders could be. Root for: Denver.
This is one of those cases where it sucks to have to root for a division rival. Let's face it, the Patriots are going to win the division for the 8 billionth time, and there is nothing Miami, Buffalo, or New York can do to stop that (New England clinches a playoff berth with a win, and they clinch the division with a win and a Jets loss). With the head-to-head tie break in hand, Miami can beat the Texans for the Wildcard spot, but need them to fall back to the Dolphins in the standings, which means they need the loss. Again, Miami could win the head-to-head meeting with the Colts later this year, but it is better to trust the tiebreak they already have, so the Texans falling into the Wildcard battle works better. Root for: New England.
Giants at Dolphins (5-7)
8:30pm ET, Monday
Let's see if we can figure this out. Dolphins fans. Looking at ways the Dolphins could make the playoffs. Yeah, this should not even need this much discussion. Root for: Miami.
If this all happened, Miami would still be in last place in the AFC East, but they would only be a game out of the AFC Wildcard with three games to play. The Chiefs would hold the fifth position at 7-6, with the Jets in the sixth spot, also 7-6. Pittsburgh would be the third team at 7-6, losing out on tiebreaks. The Dolphins at 6-7 would be tied with the Texans and Bills, with Buffalo claiming the spot ahead of Miami in the division because of the head-to-head sweep. The Dolphins would then have a game at the Chargers, followed by home games against the Colts and the Patriots to try to find their way into the tournament.