It seems strange. We are past Thanksgiving and getting ready to flip the calendar to December, yet there are the Miami Dolphins entering the NFL’s Playoff picture as the sixth seed in the AFC. The team is in the midst of a six-game winning streak, has bounced back from a 1-4 start to the year, and looks to be finding themselves as the season progresses.
It is unfamiliar territory for a franchise, and a fan base, that has not made the NFL’s championship tournament since 2008 and has not won a game in the postseason since 2000. The Dolphins have struggled in December in recent years, faltering down the stretch even when they have appeared to be in position to claim the elusive playoff berth. This year, this team, feels different.
That said, there is a lot of work still to do for the Dolphins. They are playing without any room for error, tied for the Wildcard position with the edge over the Denver Broncos based on AFC conference wining percentage and two games behind the New England Patriots for the AFC East title. Even a minor slip could be enough to knock them out of contention. In a year in which the team was expected to finish in last place in the division and was thought to be starting a rebuild, being in this position now may be enough to have this year considered a success - but it sure will not feel like one if the December woes come back.
Current AFC Playoff Picture:
1. New England Patriots (9-2) - AFC East leader
2. Oakland Raiders (9-2) - AFC West leader
3. Baltimore Ravens (6-5) - AFC North leader
4. Houston Texans (6-5) - AFC South leader
5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) - Wildcard 1
6. Miami Dolphins (7-4) - Wildcard 2
Tie breaks: New England over Oakland (1st seed to 2nd seed) based on AFC winning percentage; Baltimore over Pittsburgh (Division lead) based on head-to-head results / Baltimore over Houston (3rd seed to 4th seed) based on AFC winning percentage; Miami over Denver (6th seed to out) based on AFC winning percentage
Current NFC Playoff Picture:
1. Dallas Cowboys (10-1) - NFC East leader
2. Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1) - NFC West leader
3. Detroit Lions (7-4) - NFC North leader
4. Atlanta Falcons (7-4) - NFC South leader
5. New York Giants (8-3) - Wildcard 1
6. Washington Redskins (6-4-1) - Wildcard 2
Tie breaks: Detroit over Atlanta (3rd seed to 4th seed) based on NFC winning percentage