We are moving into the second half of the 2020 season (how is that already possible?), which means we are moving into the time of the year where playoff contention is a real thing and wins and losses from around the league have real impacts. The Miami Dolphins come into Week 9 in second place in the AFC East, in contention for a Wildcard spot, and looking to continue a three-game winning streak.
But, what about the rest of the games on the schedule for this weekend? We take a look at the Week 9 schedule and design a rooting guide for Dolphins fans:
Denver Broncos (3-4) at Atlanta Falcons (2-6), 1pm ET - Standard rule is root for the NFC team over the AFC team. Root for: Atlanta
Seattle Seahawks (6-1) at Buffalo Bills (6-2), 1pm ET - The Dolphins need losses from the Bills to push them out of the AFC East lead. Plus it meets the NFC versus AFC rule. Root for: Seattle.
Baltimore Ravens (5-2) at Indianapolis Colts (5-2), 1pm ET - This is a harder game to choose. Who is more likely to win their respective division and who could be a problem if Miami is fighting for a Wildcard spot? The Ravens are two games behind Pittsburgh for the AFC North while the Colts are tied for the AFC South lead with Tennessee. Root for: Toss up
Houston Texans (1-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6), 1pm ET - This is an easy one. The Dolphins have the Texans’ first- and second-round draft picks this year, so losses in Houston are a good thing for Miami. Root for: Jacksonville
Carolina Panthers (3-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-1), 1pm ET - The Chiefs are running away with their division, and Miami plays Kansas City later this year, so there is some strength of schedule/victory considerations there. This is, however, an NFC versus AFC matchup - and, if the Dolphins finish as the final Wildcard, having the Chiefs not the top seed in the postseason could mean Miami avoids them early in the playoffs. Then again, it could mean Miami plays Kansas City in the first round of the playoffs if the Chiefs are the second seed. We will stick with the NFC versus AFC rule here. Root for: Carolina
Detroit Lions (3-4) at Minnesota Vikings (2-5), 1pm ET - No real Dolphins impact. Root for: Toss up.
Chicago Bears (5-3) at Tennessee Titans (5-2), 1pm ET - You probably already know that I will tend to root for Ryan Tannehill, but this follows the NFC versus AFC rule. I really want to see Tannehill do well, but Chicago winning makes more sense here. Root for: Chicago.
New York Giants (1-7) at Washington Football Team (2-5), 1pm ET - Getting teams ahead of the Jets in the NFL Draft order is an important aspect of the season if you are a Dolphins fan. As such, the Giants with one win are closer to moving ahead of the Jets. Root for: Washington
Las Vegas Raiders (4-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-5), 4:05pm ET - There are multiple ways to look at this game, where the Raiders are behind the Chiefs in the AFC West, but the Chargers are not out of Wildcard contention yet either. I will lean toward wanting the team ahead of Miami in the playoff standings (via strength of victory tie break) to lose. Root for: Los Angeles.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-6), 4:25pm ET - Simple. Follows the NFC versus AFC rule, plus the Steelers need to lose for the 1972 Perfect Season team. Root for: Dallas.
New Orleans Saints (5-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2), 8:20pm ET - No real impact on the Dolphins, but rooting to see Sad Tom Brady is always fun. Root for: New Orleans.
New England Patriots (2-5) at New York Jets (0-8), 8:15pm ET Monday - I cannot say it, but rooting for the 0-8 team to pick up a win is important - plus we get to root for the Patriots to continue to fall apart. Root for: New Enland loss.