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Miami Dolphins fans Week 15 rooting guide

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NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are heading into their Week 15 schedule with an outside shot at the playoffs. They need some help to get there, but it is not impossible to think that Miami could find themselves in the postseason for the second-straight year.

The rules are pretty straight forward. If the game has no bearing on the Dolphins’ playoff chances, we do not include it in here. Most of the time, that is an NFC versus an NFC team, though this week started off with two eliminated teams facing off. Of course, this rule is not perfect because strength of victory and strength of schedule tie breakers can get involved, but trying to come up with every solution along those routes is deeper than we will go in this rooting guide.

The two ways for the Dolphins to make it into the playoffs are the AFC East division title or one of two Wildcard positions. The New England Patriots are running away with the division crown (again), so that is out for Miami in 2017. That means we have to consider all of the possible Wildcard teams in the rooting guide.

Let’s get to the guide:

Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)
Saturday, 8:30pm ET

This one is hard, because both teams are ahead of Miami in the current standings. The Chiefs are in the AFC West lead, while the Chargers are tied with them losing out on the head-to-head tie break, pending the results of this, their second meeting this year. Miami already beat the Chargers back in Week 1, and they play the Chiefs in Week 16, so the Dolphins could have the head-to-head tie break over both teams by the time the season ends. We will go with the sure thing right now, however, and hope to see the Chiefs take control of the division, while the Chargers fall back to the Dolphins in the standings.

Root for: Chiefs.

Houston Texans (4-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)
Sunday, 1pm ET

This game really does not have any bearing on the Dolphins’ playoff chances, given that the Jaguars are leading their division while the Texans are eliminated from the playoffs. Keeping Jacksonville in the AFC South lead keeps them out of the Wildcard hunt, so that would he helpful for Miami. More importantly, if the Jaguars win, they stay in position to possibly knock the Patriots out of the bye week positions at the top of the conference, so that is always good.

Root for: Jaguars.

Baltimore Ravens (7-6) at Cleveland Browns (0-13)
Sunday, 1pm ET

This one is easy. Cleveland is out of playoff contention; Baltimore is ahead of Miami in the playoff chase, and likely would be the team most likely to claim the position over the Dolphins if Miami were to win out.

Root for: Browns.

Miami Dolphins (6-7) at Buffalo Bills (7-6)
Sunday, 1pm ET

Want Miami in the playoffs? They have to win. Plus, they can back ahead of the Bills in the division, like they should be.

Root for: Dolphins.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, 1pm ET

The Bengals are behind the Dolphins in the playoff standings, right on the border of being eliminated from the playoffs. The Vikings are in the NFC, so a win from them does nothing to the Dolphins.

Root for: Vikings.

New York Jets (5-8) at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, 1pm ET

The Jets are behind the Dolphins in the playoff standings, just ahead of the Bengals at that playoff elimination border. The Saints are in the NFC, so a win from them does not hurt the Dolphins, but it does actually help Miami’s strength of schedule. The Jets could help Miami’s strength of schedule and strength of victory with a win, but it would keep the AFC East rival too close to the Dolphins, plus, you cannot root for the Jets.

Root for: Saints.

Tennessee Titans (8-5) at San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 4:25pm ET

The Titans are two games ahead of the Dolphins and in the top Wildcard spot. Miami is likely only playing for the second Wildcard spot, but seeing the Titans lose a couple of times and open the potential for both Wildcard spots to be in play could be a good thing. Plus, this is another AFC versus NFC game, with the general rule of rooting for the NFC over the AFC.

Root for: 49ers.

New England Patriots (10-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)
Sunday, 4:25pm ET

This one is actually pretty easy, despite it being two AFC teams ahead of Miami. With rooting for Miami the obvious answer, that means the Patriots are going to win the AFC East (a loss from Buffalo or a Patriots win clinches the division for New England). The Steelers have already clinched their division, so this game has no bearing on the Wildcard chase. That said, seeing the Patriots lose is always good, and it could be a large step toward Pittsburgh claiming home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, keeping New England from getting it.

Root for: Steelers.

Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders (6-7)
Sunday, 8:30pm ET

NFC versus AFC, with the Raiders currently tied with the Dolphins, but ahead of them in tie breaks. That makes it fairly simple in deciding how to root for this game.

Root for: Cowboys.


If all of these games finish according to the rooting guide, the AFC Playoff picture would look like:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-2)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4)
3. New England Patriots (10-4)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)
5. Tennessee Titans (8-6)
6. Miami Dolphins (7-7)

The Dolphins would be in the final Wildcard position based on tie breakers with the Bills (head-to-head) and over the Chargers and Ravens (AFC conference winning percentage).