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Complete breakdown of Miami Dolphins playoff scenarios

What needs to happen for the Miami Dolphins to clinch a playoff spot?

New England Patriots Vs. Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium

The Miami Dolphins control their own playoff destiny, a reality that has been foreign to Dolphins fans this late into December for much of the current century. With just two games left to be played in 2020, we’re going to dive into several scenarios that could take place over the next couple of weeks that could land your Miami Dolphins a spot in the AFC playoff picture. If you want to play around with different playoff scenarios, be sure to check out fivethirtyeight.com, the site we used to deduce the percentages and win-loss scenarios below.

For context, the current AFC Playoff Picture (with one game remaining in Week 15) is as follows:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-1) clinched division
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) clinched playoff spot
  3. Buffalo Bills (11-3) clinched division
  4. Tennessee Titans (10-4) currently holds division-record tiebreaker over Indianapolis
  5. Cleveland Browns (10-4) currently holds head-to-head tiebreaker over Indianapolis
  6. Indianapolis Colts (10-4)
  7. Miami Dolphins (9-5) currently holds conference-record tiebreaker over Baltimore
  8. Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
  9. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)

Scenario #1

The Miami Dolphins beat the Las Vegas Raiders (Week 16) and

The Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills (Week 17)

In this scenario, the Miami Dolphins end the season with a 11-5 record with the team holding a conference-record tiebreaker over the Baltimore Ravens (even if Baltimore wins out), ensuring a wildcard spot.

Scenario #2

The Miami Dolphins beat the Las Vegas Raiders (Week 16) or

The Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills (Week 17) and

The Baltimore Ravens lose to the Cincinnati Bengals (Week 17)

In this scenario, the Miami Dolphins end the season with a 10-6 record with the team holding a conference-record tiebreaker over the Baltimore Ravens, ensuring a wildcard spot. Note: a Baltimore loss to the New York Giants does not help a 10-6 Miami team make the playoffs if Baltimore beats Cincinnati because, despite both teams holding a 10-6 record, Baltimore would hold a conference-record tiebreaker over the Dolphins.

FIveThirtyEight currently gives the Ravens an 89% win-probability over the Bengals.

Scenario #3

The Miami Dolphins beat the Las Vegas Raiders (Week 16) or

The Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills (Week 17) and

The Cleveland Browns lose to the New York Jets (Week 17) and

The Cleveland Browns lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 17)

In this scenario, the Miami Dolphins end the season with a 10-6 record with the team holding a conference-record tiebreaker over the Cleveland Browns, ensuring a wildcard spot.

FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Browns an 82% win-probability over the Jets.

FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Browns a 50% win-probability over the Steelers.

Scenario #4

The Miami Dolphins beat the Las Vegas Raiders (Week 16) or

The Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills (Week 17) and

The Indianapolis Colts lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 16) and

The Indianapolis Colts lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 17)

In this scenario, the Miami Dolphins end the season with a 10-6 record with the team holding a conference-record tiebreaker over the Indianapolis Colts, ensuring a wildcard spot.

FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Colts a 44% win-probability over the Steelers.

FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Colts an 89% win-probability over the Jaguars.

Scenario #5

The Baltimore Ravens lose to the New York Giants (Week 16) and

The Baltimore Ravens lose to the Cincinnati Bengals (Week 17) and

The Las Vegas Raiders lose to the Denver Broncos (Week 17)

This is the only scenario in which the Miami Dolphins could make the playoffs without winning either of the team’s next two games. In this scenario, the Dolphins end the season with a 9-7 record with the team holding a common games-record tiebreaker over the Baltimore Ravens, ensuring a wildcard spot.

FIveThirtyEight currently gives the Ravens an 84% win-probability over the Giants.

FIveThirtyEight currently gives the Ravens an 89% win-probability over the Bengals.

FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Raiders a 44% win-probability over the Broncos.

This article was written by The Phinsider Staff Writer, Justin Hier. Be sure to follow Justin on Twitter @HierJustin.