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Dolphins playoff chances find no Saturday help; Could be eliminated on Sunday

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins head into Week 16 needing help to keep their playoff chances alive. On Saturday, the Dolphins did not find any of that assistance. The results from the two game yesterday now have the Dolphins on the brink of elimination, rather than seeing their chances for January football increased.

Saturday saw the Tennessee Titans beat the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Los Angeles Chargers. That moves both the Titans and the Ravens to 9-6 on the season and tied for the last Wildcard position. Miami, who already came into the week needing to win both their Sunday game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and their Week 17 game at the Buffalo Bills, is 7-7 on the year and in need of tiebreaks to help them get to the postseason.

The Ravens and Titans both at 9-6 leaves Miami in desperate need of at least one of two results on Sunday. The Dolphins can be eliminated if the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots both win. The Colts, who are hosting the New York Giants, would move to 9-6 on the season and remain tied for the Wildcard. The Colts and Titans face off in Week 17, which could guarantee one of them moves to 10-6 and out of Miami’s reach or both could finish 9-6-1, again out of Miami’s reach.

That leaves the AFC East as the only other path to the postseason, and the Dolphins need the 9-5 Patriots to lose both this week to the 5-9 Bills and next week to the 4-10 New York Jets. New England is a 13.5-point favorite over the Bills today and will be a large favorite next week over the Jets. If both the Patriots and the Dolphins finish 9-7 on the year, Miami wins the tie break based on division record.

Miami’s chances for the postseason come down to:

  1. Miami wins in Week 16 (vs. Jaguars) and Week 17 (at Bills) AND
  2. Patriots lose in Week 16 (vs. Bills) and Week 17 (vs. Jets) OR
  3. Colts lose in Week 16 (vs. Giants) then win in Week 17 (at Titans); Ravens lose in Week 17 (vs. Browns); Steelers win in Week 16 (at Saints) or in Week 17 (vs. Cincinnati).

This would either make Miami the AFC East champions (with the two Patriots losses) or they would claim the final Wildcard spot with the Steelers winning the AFC North, the Colts eliminating the Titans in an AFC South tiebreak, then Miami winning the tiebreak over the Colts and Ravens based on AFC record.

If all of these scenarios play out, Miami would clinch the AFC East, becoming the fourth seed, while the Steelers would win the AFC North and the Ravens would become the sixth seed and the Patriots would miss the playoffs. If all of these scenarios play out, except the Steelers lose both of their remaining games, the Dolphins would become the third seed and host the sixth seeded Patriots while the Ravens would become the fourth seed as the AFC North champions.

There are still two paths to the postseason for Miami, but those paths got much narrower on Saturday. Sunday could see Miami hanging on to those slim hopes, or it could see Week 17 have no remaining playoff implications for the Dolphins.