The Miami Dolphins can keep themselves in the AFC playoff picture as well as move into the top five in 2021 draft picks if things go well for them this weekend. Holding on to the seventh-seed, Miami can put all doubt away with wins over the next two weekend. They could use some help if they want to make sure they make it to the postseason, however. They could also use some help with the draft order.
The Dolphins hold the Houston Texans’ first- and second-round draft picks this year, meaning losses from Houston are helpful to Miami.
Below we take a look at the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday slate of games for the NFL, and break down the rooting guide for Dolphins fans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions, 1pm ET Saturday
Discussion: This game really means nothing for Miami, other than maybe the Lions getting close to the Houston draft pick. That said, I enjoy sad Tom Brady way too much to not want to see him make an appearance.
Root for: Detroit
Note: As I publish this, the Buccaneers lead the Lions 34-0 just prior to halftime. Looks like no sad Brady appearances today. At least the result does not really impact Miami.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals, 4:30pm ET Saturday
Discussion: Another game that really does not have much impact on the Dolphins. Miami beat both of these teams this year, which makes the strength of schedule/victory tiebreaks meaningless. The 49ers are just 5-9 on the year, which means they are only a game better than Houston, so we will lean toward wanting to see them win and stay away from Miami’s extra first-round pick.
Root for: San Francisco.
Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1pm ET Sunday
Discussion: The Steelers are locked into the playoffs, even as they are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and open the door to the Browns taking the AFC North. The Colts are a spot ahead of Miami in the Wildcard picture, which really makes this an easy choice. The team that is locked into the playoffs needs to win, so they do not take a Wildcard spot, while the team that is in a Wildcard position and a game ahead of Miami losing helps the Dolphins.
Root for: Pittsburgh.
Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs, 1pm ET Sunday
Discussion: The primary rule is to root for the NFC team against the AFC team in these kind of matchups, and that will work here, though that is not the main reason for this choice. The NFC over AFC option is typically for the playoff considerations, but Miami at 9-5 is not catching Kansas City at 13-1, so the playoff picture does not play into this situation. The Draft, however, does, as the Falcons are one spot ahead of Houston. A win from Atlanta could help the Dolphins see that pick move up.
Root for: Atlanta.
Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1pm ET Sunday
Discussion: Another NFC versus AFC game, but again, no playoff implications here as the Jaguars are just 1-13 on the year. That said, the Jaguars need to keep losing just to make sure the New York Jets do not stumble back into the top spot in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Root for: Chicago.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans, 1pm ET Sunday
Discussion: This one could have double the impact for Miami. Obviously, Houston losing is the goal here, but the Bengals are just 3-10-1 this year, currently in position to hold the third-overall pick next spring. A win here would have the fall behind a 4-11 Houston team in the selection process.
Root for: Cincinnati
New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens, 1pm ET Sunday
Discussion: An NFC versus AFC matchup with playoff implications for the Dolphins. Pretty simple and straight-forward as the Dolphins would love to see a Ravens loss.
Root for: New York.
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets, 1pm ET Sunday
Discussion: It is happening again, and I cannot stand it. Wanting wins from the green team in New Jersey makes me want to go take a shower or fifteen. But, we are back to that this week. The Browns are a game better than Miami in the playoff picture, so a loss helps the Dolphins. Plus a win from the green team continues to see them gase away their shot at the top choice in the Draft. That is just hysterical.
Root for: A Cleveland loss.
Carolina Panthers at Washington Football Team, 4:05pm ET Sunday
Discussion: The Pathers are picking fourth right now in the draft thanks to a .533 strength of schedule and a 4-10 record. Wins from Carolina could move them behind Houston in the standings, and give Miami a better pick.
Root for: Washington.
Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05pm ET Sunday
Discussion: Denver and Los Angeles are both eliminated from the playoff picture, and both have 5-9 records, putting them behind Houston in the draft order. It really is a toss up. The Broncos play the Raiders in Week 17, while the Chargers are up against the Chiefs. Since Los Angeles is more likely to lose to the Chiefs than the Broncos are to lose to the Raiders, we will lean toward the Broncos losing here.
Root for: Los Angeles.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25pm ET Sunday
Discussion: The NFC East is just dumb this year. The Minnesota Vikings, in the ninth spot in the NFC playoff picture, are eliminated from the postseason. The 11th seeded Cowboys, the 13th seeded Giants, and the 14th seeded Eagles, are still in the hunt because Washington is leading the division at 6-8. Both the Eagles and Cowboys are behind the Texans in the current draft order, so this is really a toss up. We will lean slightly toward wanting to see the Eagles win because they are 4-9-1, while the Cowboys are 5-9.
Root for: Philadelphia.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25pm ET Sunday.
Discussion: No playoff or draft issue here (though, interestingly, the Rams’ first-round pick has been traded to the Jaguars, and the Seahawks’ pick has been traded to the Jets, giving the teams with the first two picks additional selections from this game). Miami lost to the Seahawks and beat the Rams this year, so while the strength of victory tie break does not seem to be in play this season, maybe a win from the Rams helps the Dolphins just a little.
Root for: Los Angeles.
Discussion: The Titans are leading the AFC South, but the Colts are tied with them at 10-4. We will break the NFC versus AFC rule here because someone has to win the division and, since we have the Colts losing above, a Titans win here keeps them as the front runner for the division.
Root for: Tennessee.
Discussion: Somehow, a late-season Patriots-Bills game is basically a toss-up for the Dolphins. The Bills have won the division this year. The Dolphins eliminated the Patriots from Wildcard contention last week, but New England is 6-8 on the year, so they are well behind Houston’s draft pick as well. It really does not make much impact on Miami no matter what happens here.
Root for: Toss up.