The Miami Dolphins hit the field this weekend holding on to the slimmest of playoff hopes, sitting at 5-6 on the year and eighth in the AFC standings. They have to get to winning football this week against the Buffalo Bills, who are 13th in the conference at 4-7, and they need to get some help if they want to (a) remain in the playoff picture and (b) actually move up so they are not at the bottom of the “in contention” list.
Each week, we take a look at the NFL schedule and put together a rooting guide so Dolphins fans know which results help Miami the most. Here is the Week 13 edition of the guide:
Baltimore Ravens at Atlanta Falcons, 1pm
This is a pretty quick and easy one. AFC versus NFC, and the Ravens are currently in the last Wildcard position. Miami needs them to lose. Root for: Falcons.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins, 1pm
Root for: Dolphins.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1pm
The Colts are 6-5 on the season and in seventh in the AFC. If Miami wants to move ahead of them, they are going to need them to pick up some losses - especially since the Colts have the head-to-head tie break after last week. Root for: Jaguars.
Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans, 1pm
Honestly, this could fall into the not considered category, with the Texans leading the AFC South and looking comfortable in that position while the Browns are in 12th in the conference. But, we will add it simply to root for the Texans to pull further ahead of the Colts - keeping Houston from the Wildcard race - and for the Browns to fall further behind the Dolphins. Root for: Texans.
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals, 1pm
This one is actually closer than it probably seems in terms of which team helps Miami the most. Both teams are 5-6, tied with Miami for the eighth position, with Miami ahead based on tied breaks. The Dolphins lost to Cincinnati this season, which means in a head-to-head tie break, the Bengals come out on top. That is not a good thing for the Dolphins’ playoff chances. If the Dolphins were to beat the Bills and the Broncos beat the Bengals, Miami would have a 5-4 conference record, while the Broncos would be 4-5, so the Dolphins would likely win that tie break. We will root for that scenario. Root for: Broncos.
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders, 4:05pm
This game has no real bearing on the Dolphins other than some strength of victory/schedule options if the Raiders were to win. However, the Chiefs staying atop the AFC is good for Dolphins fans who do not want to see New England with homefield advantage in the playoffs. Root for: Chiefs.
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans, 4:05pm
It had to happen at some point this season, and I hate it. The Titans losing helps Miami, with Tennessee currently in the four-way tie with the Dolphins, Bengals, and Broncos. New York winning gives Miami two more wins in the strength of victory/schedule as well, so that is good. I cannot say it, though. Root for: Titans loss.
Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots, 4:25pm
Miami gets a shot at bettering their strength of victory with a win over the Vikings in a couple weeks - they also get the Patriots again next week and will be looking to even the season series. The AFC East appears to be the Patriots again this year - currently holding a three-game lead - but as long as it is still in play, we may as well hope that everything falls apart for them. Plus, adding extra space between the Patriots and the playoff’s homefield advantage is a good thing. Root for: Vikings.
Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20pm
The Chargers are currently in the AFC’s fifth seed, three games ahead of Miami. The Steelers are in the fourth seed as the AFC North leader. If the playoffs started today, this game would be on the Wildcard weekend schedule. Either team losing could be the right play for Miami, but we will look to keep the AFC North lead with the Steelers, and hope that the Charger start falling back to the rest of the Wildcard pack. Root for: Steelers.
Strength of victory and strength of schedule considerations:
Chicago Bears beat New York Giants, 1pm
Strength of schedule only considerations:
Detroit Lions beat Los Angeles Rams, 1pm
Green Bay Packers beat Arizona Cardinals, 1pm
Games not considered (No Dolphins impact):
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1pm
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25pm
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15pm Monday
AFC Standings with rooting guide results:
1 - AFC West Leader - Kansas City Chiefs
2 - AFC South Leader - Houston Texans
3 - AFC North Leader - Pittsburgh Steelers
4 - AFC East Leader - New England Patriots
5 - Wildcard - Los Angeles Chargers
6 - Wildcard - Baltimore Ravens
7 - Miami Dolphins
8 - Indianapolis Colts
9 - Denver Broncos
10 - Cincinnati Bengals
11 - Tennessee Titans
12 - Cleveland Browns
13 - Buffalo Bills
14 - Jacksonville Jaguars
15 - New York Jets
16 - Oakland Raiders
A four-way tie between the Ravens, Dolphins, Colts, and Broncos, all at 6-6, comes down to the AFC standings, with the Ravens coming out on top this week.