We have gotten away from our weekly The Phinsider guide to each week’s NFL schedule and how to root for each game, but we bring it back this morning. This guide take a look at each game on the NFL schedule and finds the best outcome for the Miami Dolphins in terms of playoff positioning. Sometimes the choice for a winner is obvious. Sometimes it is a little more difficult to figure out which team winning helps Miami the most.
The basic rules of the guide are to pick NFC teams to beat AFC teams, and to always root against other AFC East opponents. As we get later into the season, those rules become a little more flexible as Wildcard positioning starts to take shape, and tiebreaks become more important.
Here is how Week 10 breaks down:
New Orleans Saints at Cincinnati Bengals, 1pm ET
Pittsburgh looks like they are on track to win the AFC North, which means the Bengals, currently 5-3 and in the sixth position in the AFC playoff picture, would be a Wildcard team. They have the head-to-head tie break on the Dolphins, so Miami needs them to rack up some losses. Plus, this is an NFC versus an AFC team that easily still follows the rule. Root for: Saints.
Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns, 1pm ET
This game nearly landed in the category of games without bearing on Miami because the Dolphins do not play the Falcons this year and the Browns are 2-6-1 on the season and in 14th in the AFC playoff picture. However, they are not eliminated from the playoff picture yet, so we will include the Browns still. Root for: Falcons.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears, 1pm ET
This is a weird NFC versus NFC game that could have an impact on the Dolphins. Miami beat the Bears but lost to the Lions, which means a Bears win helps Miami’s strength of victory tie break if needed. Root for: Bears.
Arizona Cardinals at Kansas City Chiefs, 1pm ET
This game also has little direct impact on the Dolphins, as the Chiefs appear to be running away with their division and the Cardinals are in the NFC. It does, however, have impact on the Dolphins’ AFC East rivals New England - and for that reason it makes it into the rooting guide. The Chiefs could still be caught in their division, though they are up by two games in the win column over the Los Angeles Chargers, so a Kansas City win does help keep them out of the Wildcard hunt should they not be able to finish running away with the division. A Chiefs win also makes sure they remain a game ahead of New England in the battle for the AFC’s top playoff spot, and keeping New England from home field advantage in the playoffs is always something for which we should root. Root for: Chiefs.
New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans, 1pm ET
This one is really confusing. If Miami is going to win the AFC East - they are two games out right now - they need Patriots losses. If they are going to keep the Titans out of the playoff picture, they need Titans losses. At this point, let’s root for the Dolphins to threaten the Patriots in the division, knowing it is unlikely but also banking on Miami’s head-to-head tie break against the Titans to give them a little breathing room. Root for: Titans.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets, 1pm ET
AFC East versus AFC East, and both having bad seasons so there really is not a clear team for which to root. We will give the nod to Buffalo because they are the worst of the two teams, so more losses for the Jets makes sense, plus it take a lot - like facing New England - to ever make me say a Dolphins fan should root for New York. Root for: Bills.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts, 1pm ET
This is another tough one. Both AFC South teams are 3-5 and two games behind Miami in the Wildcard chase. Miami still plays both teams, so there is no advantage to one winning over the other for strength of victory considerations. Really, this game could be in the “without bearing” category, but you could choose which one of the teams you think is more likely to put together wins and claw back into the Wildcard race. Root for: Your choice.
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders, 4:05pm ET
Earlier, we assumed the Chiefs would run away with the AFC West. The Chargers are the only team right now who can make that not a true assumption. If the Chiefs do run away with the division, then the Chargers are in the Wildcard hunt, with their 6-2 record having them in the fifth position right now. Losses for the Chargers are a good thing for Miami. Root for: Raiders.
Miami Dolphins at Green Bay Packers, 4:25pm ET
Root for: Dolphins.