The Miami Dolphins are 3-0 on the season and looking to continue to put distance between themselves and the rest of the AFC East. The playoffs are still a long way away, but as the first quarter of the season comes to an end, Miami could be 4-0 with a three-game lead over the New England Patriots, who most considered the favorite to win the division before the start of the season.
As we do each week, we take a look at the NFL’s schedule and decide which teams winning best helps Miami’s chances for the playoffs. The basic rules for most of the game is that you root the Dolphins, for NFC teams over AFC teams, and you do not root for teams in the AFC East. Later in the year, when strengths of victory and the surprises of the season - “bad” teams being good and “good” teams being bad - this will adjust, but we are still early in the season so those basic rules likely apply.
This game hits on two reasons to root against the Jets. The first being the obvious fact that it is the Jets, and therefore you should root against them 99.9 percent of the time. The other being a presumption that the Jaguars will win the AFC South, which would keep them from claiming a Wildcard position, a good thing for Miami. Root for: Jaguars.
Dolphins at Patriots - 1pm
Root for: Dolphins.
The Dolphins have already defeated the Titans this year, which could lead to an argument that a Tennessee win is actually good for Miami as it increases their strength of schedule/victory tiebreaks. That said, I would rather see the Titans fall away from the Wildcard than trust that tiebreaks - which can get wonky if more than one team is involved - would push Miami into position. Root for: Eagles.
The Dolphins still play both of these teams, so they can get the head-to-head tie break for both. That means, the question is which of the two teams do you see as a more-likely Wildcard competitor for Miami? At 0-3, the Texans have put themselves into a tough hole, while the Colts are only a game better at 1-2. For this week, we will say the Colts have the better chance at the Wildcard. Root for: Texans.
This one is pretty straight forward. Even with the Dolphins playing the Packers later in the year, go ahead and hope to see the Bills fall further behind in the AFC East. Root for: Packers.
The odd NFC versus NFC game that impacts Miami. The Lions come to Miami in Week 7, so the better their record, the better the tie break for Miami with a win. Root for: Lions.
The Bengals are in the lead in the AFC North, but it does not feel like they will stay there - Pittsburgh and Baltimore should be able to make a run at them, right? In that case, Bengals losses make sense to get them away from the Wildcard. Root for: Falcons.
Miami holds the head-to-head tiebreak on the Raiders after last week. Like the Texans and Colts game, this is a team with one win (Cleveland at 1-1-1) against a team with no wins (Raiders 0-3). Both teams could find themselves with outside shots at the Wildcard, so we will root for the team that could help Miami in strength of schedule/victory tiebreaks and against the team with a win. Root for: Raiders.
Easy one. Root for the NFC against the AFC. Root for: 49ers.
If the Bengals are going to fall out of the AFC North lead, one of these two will do it (sorry Browns, not ready to believe there yet). The Ravens are tied with Cincinnati right now, but I think the Steelers are more likely to rebound and take control of the division than anyone else. This game is pretty much a toss-up at this point. Root for: Whichever you think will win the Division (I will go Steelers).
This is another game where it really does not make a lot of difference. One of these two seem to be the future AFC West winner, while the other will likely be in the Wildcard hunt. It might make more sense to see the Broncos lose so that they have two losses on the year, but I will look at it a different way. If the Chiefs lose, they fall from the ranks of the undefeated. In Miami, that is an important thing. Root for: Broncos.