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AFC Playoff Picture gets better and worse for Dolphins on Sunday

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Playoffs are only four weeks away, with the early Week 14 games now complete. The Miami Dolphins had a good week in the standings, but may have had a bad week overall in their search for the first playoff berth for the franchise since 2008.

Miami beat the Arizona Cardinals to move to 8-5 on the year, which ties them with the Denver Broncos, who currently are in the sixth-seed position but lost to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. That means the tie break between the Dolphins and Broncos is the only difference in being in or out of the postseason right now for the Dolphins. The Broncos currently hold the “common games” lead, but the Dolphins can still moves past the Broncos.

In fact, the Broncos could be out of the sixth seed by Monday night if the Ravens lose to the New England Patriots. In that case, the Dolphins, Broncos, and Pittsburgh Steelers will all be tied at 8-5, and Pittsburgh will claim the position based on a three-way tie-breaker based on AFC conference record.

There are still a ton of permutations of how the Playoff seeding will shake out for the Dolphins, but it may be the other story that is actually the bigger one at this point. The Dolphins appear to have lost quarterback Ryan Tannehill, likely for the season.

Tannehill was injured in the third quarter of the win over the Cardinals when he was hit low just as he threw a pass. The hit appeared to buckle his knee backwards, and he immediately grabbed for it and laid on the turf. Trainers came out to look at him and, eventually, he was able to walk off the field. However, he went to the locker room and came back to the sidelines later in street clothes. Several players went over to hug him and it does appear it is a serious injury - though no official word has yet been released.

Tannehill has not missed a start in the 77 games Miami has played since he was drafted in 2012. Matt Moore took over during Sunday’s game and likely will continue as the starter assuming Tannehill is out.

The Dolphins are in Playoff position now, and are guaranteed to at least finish .500 this year, but the bad news on Sunday outweighs any good feeling immediately after a game winning field goal.

AFC Playoff Standings (Through Week 14 early games)

1. New England Patriots (10-2)*

2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

4. Houston Texans (7-6)

5. Oakland Raiders (10-3)

6. Denver Broncos (8-5)

Miami Dolphins (8-5)

Baltimore Ravens (7-5)*

Tennessee Titans (7-6)

Indianapolis Colts (6-7)

Buffalo Bills (6-7)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1)

San Diego Chargers (5-8)

*Still to play in Week 14.

Eliminated teams:

New York Jets (3-9)*
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)
Cleveland Browns (0-13)

*Still to play in Week 14.