The 2018 NFL season is nearly nine weeks old, which means there are only eight weeks remaining before the playoffs begin. Yes, it still feels a little early, and yes, the Miami Dolphins are not exactly lighting the world on fire right now, but guess what? They actually are right in the middle of the playoff hunt. Want proof? Well, here you go. We take a look today at the current AFC playoff picture.
The Division leaders are currently the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Houston Texans. The Wildcard teams are the Los Angeles Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Dolphins are currently seventh in the AFC, the only team not in the current playoff seeding with a winning record. They are effectively tied with the Bengals - though Miami still has to have their bye week and the Bengals have the head-to-head tie break on the Dolphins - with both teams at five wins.
Here is the full AFC standings through (most of) Week 9:
AFC Playoff Picture
1 - AFC West leader - Kansas City Chiefs (8-1)
2 - AFC East leader - New England Patriots (7-2)
3 - AFC North leader - Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1)
4 - AFC South leader - Houston Texans (6-3)
5 - Wildcard - Los Angeles Chargers (6-2)
6 - Wildcard - Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)
7 - Miami Dolphins (5-4)
8 - Baltimore Ravens (4-5)
9 - Tennessee Titans (3-4)*
10 - Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5)**
11 - Indianapolis Colts (3-5)
12 - New York Jets (3-6)***
13 - Denver Broncos (3-6)
14 - Cleveland Browns (2-6-1)
15 - Buffalo Bills (2-7)
16 - Oakland Raiders (1-7)
*Plays on Monday Night Football
** Tie break: Win percentage vs. common opponents
*** Tie break: Head-to-head
The immediate future for Miami is not pretty. They travel to play the Green Bay Packers - who are capable of dominating any week despite a 3-4-1 record this season - in Week 10. Then, after a Week 11 bye week, Miami travels to the Colts in Week 12, then home against the Bills and Patriots in Weeks 13 and 14. Miami’s playoff chances really could be decided through this run of four weeks. Miami, to be a true playoff contenders, still has to solve their offensive woes and prove Sunday’s defensive win over the Jets was because of an improvement from the defense and not because they were facing the Jets’ anemic offense.
Looking at the AFC Wildcard contenders, the Bengals’ next four weeks feature a game at home against the New Orleans Saints, at the Ravens, and then home against the Browns and Broncos.
The Chargers are at the Raiders, then home against the Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, before a road game against the Steelers.
The Ravens have the home game against the Bengals followed by another home game against the Raiders. The They then hit the road for a game at the Atlanta Falcons then at the Chiefs.
After tonight’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Titans will host the Patriots, then visit the Colts and Texans. They will then host the Jets in Week 13.