The NFL’s Week 13 slate of games is upon us. As we get closer and closer to the end of the regular season, playoff and draft positioning becomes clearer and clearer. For the Miami Dolphins, who host the Cincinnati Bengals at 1pm ET Sunday, they are in the midst of both battles, with the team looking to claim a spot in the post season, while holding on to a potential early pick thanks to a trade with the Houston Texans.
Below you will find the entire schedule for the weekend, along with our recommendations for who to root for in each game to best assist the Dolphins in both pursuits.
New Orleans Saints (9-2) at Atlanta Falcons (4-7), 1pm ET - This game really does not have much bearing on the Dolphins’ playoff chances. The Saints appear to be the class of the NFC and in position to win the NFC South, while the Falcons are looking to stay out of the basement of the division. Atlanta is currently tenth in the draft order, a spot ahead of the Texans’ position, so we will look for a win from them. Root for: Atlanta.
Detroit Lions (4-7) at Chicago Bears (5-6), 1pm ET - Another NFC division rivalry game, this time in the NFC North. Like the Saints-Falcons, it has no impact on the Dolphins’ playoff chase, but this one is not as clear when it comes to the draft order. Detroit is ninth in the picks as of now, two spots ahead of the Texans, but the Bears are 13th, just two spots behind. A Lions win is probably better, but it could just send the Bears ahead of Houston, meaning it really could be a null result. Root for: Detroit.
Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Houston Texans (4-7), 1pm ET - Oh NFL, why do you have to be like this? Obviously, Texans losses are huge for Miami. However, a Colts win hurts the Dolphins. Miami is in the sixth position when it comes to the AFC Playoffs picture, with the Colts holding the seventh, and final, playoff spot, with Miami edging Indianapolis based on conference win percentage (Miami 4-3, Indianapolis 3-4). Not only does a Colts win move them to 8-4, but it improves their conference record as well. Since Miami is ahead of Indianapolis in the playoff picture, and the Texans’ draft pick will help the Dolphins longterm, we will say a Houston loss is better for Miami - but you could sway us the other way just as easily. Root for: Indianapolis (we guess).
Las Vegas Raiders (6-5) at New York Jets (0-10), 1pm ET - The Raiders are just a game behind the Dolphins in the standings, while the Jets hold the top position in the draft order. A Raiders loss helps Miami fans in multiple ways. Root for: A Las Vegas loss.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) at Minnesota Vikings (5-6), 1pm ET - Hey! An easy one! The Jaguars are the only team with a realistic chance of unseating the Jets from the top pick. Root for: Minnesota.
Cleveland Browns (8-3) at Tennessee Titans (8-3), 1pm ET - This one appears to be a tough game for the rooting guide as two AFC teams with 8-3 records face off, but it really is not. The Titans are in the top spot in the AFC South and look like the can win the division, with the Colts the only team who can threaten that spot. The Browns are stuck in the Wildcard chase as the Pittsburgh Steelers run away with the AFC North. Let the Titans keep winning and out of the Wildcard, and let the Browns keep losing to eventually fall behind Miami. Root for: Tennessee.
Los Angeles Rams (7-4) at Arizona Cardinals (6-5), 4:05pm ET - An NFC West contest, with Miami having wins over both clubs, meaning the strength of schedule/victory tiebreak for the Dolphins does not get impacted by this game as one team wins and one team loses. Both teams are in playoff position right now, so there is no draft impact either. Root for: Toss up.
New York Giants (4-7) at Seattle Seahawks (8-3), 4:05pm ET - The NFC East is being led by the 4-7 Giants, making them a playoff team and keeping them out of the early draft order. Seattle is the second seed in the NFC and the one NFC West team that beat the Dolphins. The Giants picking up wins to either keep themselves in the playoffs or to push themselves behind the Texans should someone else when the NFC East is the better result. Root for: New York.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1) at Green Bay Packers (8-3), 4:25pm ET - Similar to the Giants-Seahawks game, though the Dolphins do not have either of these teams on the schedule. The Packers are in control of the NFC North, while the Eagles are currently in the sixth spot in the draft order. Seeing Philadelphia pick up some wins helps Miami. Root for: Philadelphia.
New England Patriots (5-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-8), 4:25pm ET - This game is pretty straight forward. The Chargers are in the fifth position for the draft order, while the Patriots are below .500, but in the 15th spot in the selection order. It would make sense to want to see the Patriots lose and the Chargers win. Root for: Los Angeles.
Denver Broncos (4-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-1), 8:20pm ET - The Chiefs are a game behind the Steelers for the top seed in the AFC, while the Broncos are a spot behind Houston in the draft order. Miami is not going to catch Kansas City in the playoff order, but a win from Denver would keep them behind Houston. Root for: Denver.
Washington Football Team (4-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0), 5pm ET Monday - I hate these games so much. It seems each week, Pittsburgh faces a team where a loss from the opponent helps the Dolphins, yet the Steelers finally losing a game keeps Miami’s sole claim to a Perfect Season intact. This week, it is the Washington draft positioning that offsets the undefeated season considerations. Washington is eighth in the draft order, tied with Houston at 4-7. After this, the Steelers face the Bills, Bengals, Colts, and Browns. We are going to have to hope one of them (not the Bills) can pull off the win. Root for: Pittsburgh.
Buffalo Bills (8-3) vs. San Francisco 49ers (5-6) (in Glendale, Arizona), 8:15pm ET Monday - Miami is a game behind Buffalo for the AFC East lead. That makes this easy. Root for: San Francisco.
Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Baltimore Ravens (6-5), 8:05pm ET Tuesday - Dallas has the fourth-overall pick in the draft right now, while the Ravens are 18th. Plus, it is Baltimore. Root for: Dallas.