The Miami Dolphins have a path to the playoffs in 2018, but they need some help to get there. Over the final two weeks of the season, they need some specific results to happen. As we have done most weeks in the second half of this season, we take a look at the NFL schedule and how fans need to root for Miami to make it to the playoffs.
This week, the games that are considered get narrowed way down. We are not worried about a lot of the strength of schedule/victory tie breaks anymore. We are just down to the teams that really impact the Dolphins.
Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans, 4:30pm Saturday
The Dolphins either need all of the 8-6 teams to fall to 8-8 while Miami moves to 9-7 or they need the Titans to stay in contention to offset Indianapolis, who holds the head-to-head tiebreak on the Dolphins. Miami needs the Titans to lose at least once in the next two games, and since they play Indianapolis in Week 17 and may need to win that game so Indianapolis loses, a Titans loss here makes sense. Root for: Washington.
Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20pm Saturday
Like the Titans, Miami needs the Ravens to lose at least once in the next two weeks. The Dolphins would beat the Ravens on a tiebreak scenario, based on AFC record. The Ravens face Cleveland in Week 17, which could be a game for the AFC North championship - a scenario that could mean Baltimore is not even a factor in the Wildcard race, but for right now, we will keep them as the runner-up in their division. Giving them a loss here is better for Miami. Root for: Los Angeles.
New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts, 1pm Sunday
Another team in the AFC Wildcard madness. Pretty simple one here. Miami needs the Colts to lose - and lose twice really. Root for: New York
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns, 1pm Sunday
This game really does not impact Miami but it shows up because the Browns are still mathematically in the playoff hunt. They could finish as high as 8-7-1, which would put them half a game ahead of Miami if the Dolphins split their final two games. Just getting them out of the playoff picture is the better move. Root for: Cincinnati.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots, 1pm Sunday
Here is the first fun scenario that adds to this week’s intrigue. The Patriots have not clinched the AFC East, with Miami having an outside shot at clinching the division. In fact, the Patriots could still miss the playoffs if a lot of things go the right way - or wrong way if you are a Patriots fan. If the Patriots lose in Week 16 and in Week 17, while Miami wins both weeks, the two teams tie at 9-7, with the Miami taking the AFC East based on division record. Of course we have to root for that scenario to happen. Root for: Buffalo.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints, 4:25pm Sunday
The other fun scenario is, the Ravens (or Browns) could win the AFC North, with the Steelers suddenly hoping for a Wildcard position - and they have a tie on their record which makes them either a half-game ahead or a half-game behind when it comes to the final standings. There are ways the Ravens win the AFC North at 9-7, then the Dolphins win the Wildcard. This is like an insurance policy to help the Dolphins have multiple ways to get rid of the Ravens in the Wildcard mess. Root for: New Orleans.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins, 1pm Sunday
And the obvious game that matters in the Dolphins’ playoff standings. Root for: Miami.
Games not considered
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys, 1pm Sunday
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions, 1pm Sunday
Green Bay Packers at New York Jets, 1pm Sunday
Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles, 1pm Sunday
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers, 1pm Sunday
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05pm Sunday
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05pm Sunday
Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20pm Sunday
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders, 8:20pm Sunday