The Miami Dolphins have climbed back to 6-7 on the season and are fighting for playoff relevance as they head into the last few weeks of the year. The team finally has reached their Week 14 bye week, which gives us all a chance to take a break and look around at the rest of the league. I usually start this earlier in the season, but it feels like the bye week is a perfect time to reintroduce our Miami Dolphins fans rooting guide.
The idea is to take a look at the NFL schedule for the week, then figure out which game results hurt or help the Dolphins. Obviously, the playoffs are the goal, so there are a few general rules I use to create the rooting guide. For the most part, an NFC team winning a matchup against an AFC team helps the Dolphins. AFC East teams losing is good for Miami. And, at some point, a division leader running away with their respective division becomes a good thing as they will likely give other teams in their division losses and it keeps Miami from having to navigate multiple scenarios of division leaders falling back into Wildcard position.
Odds for each game are brought to us by DraftKings Sportsbook.
With all of that said, it is time to jump into the Week 14 Miami Dolphins fan rooting guide:
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
The Titans are 8-4 and leading the AFC South, while Jacksonville is 2-10 and just hanging onto any possible playoff chances. A loss in Week 14 (or a win from Buffalo, Los Angeles, Denver, or Cleveland) eliminates the Jaguars. This is one of those places where you could make an argument either way. Do you root for the Titans to win so they can run away with the division and Miami does not need to worry about them in the Wildcard picture? Or do you hope they do fall back into the Wildcard spot because that would likely move Indianapolis into the division lead, and Miami lost to Indianapolis earlier this season? While the Dolphins could still claim a head-to-head tieback over Tennessee, the Titans swept Indianapolis this season, making it difficult to envision a path to the AFC South title for Indy, so this may as well be a runaway for the Titans. Root for: Tennessee
Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
The start of the 2021 season was not the domination of the AFC West the Chiefs probably thought they would have this year, but they are back in the top spot in the division and have a chance to tie records with New England for the number one seed. The Raiders are currently ninth in the AFC playoff picture, hoping to position themselves for a run at a Wildcard spot. The Chiefs giving Las Vegas a win to drop to 6-7 and tied with Miami is a good thing. Root for: Kansas City.
New Orleans Saints at New York Jets
This game does not have much impact on the Dolphins, given it is an NFC team against a 3-9 Jets team, but a loss for New York officially eliminates them from the playoffs. Getting teams out of the playoff picture, especially when Miami faces them next week and they will no longer have anything for which to play, is a good result. Plus, we should root for the Jets to lose 99 percent of the time. Root for: New Orleans.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
An AFC North showdown, the Ravens have a two-game lead on Cleveland in the division and are clear of Cincinnati by a game. Adding a loss to the Browns moves them to 6-7, tied with Miami’s record. That is the best-case scenario in this contest Root for: Baltimore.
New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers
An NFC team playing an AFC team in a Wildcard position. This is a pretty easy one to add to the guide. New York winning and having the Chargers fall to 7-6, within a game of Miami, is ideal. Root for: New York.
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos
An NFC versus an AFC team who is ahead of the Dolphins in the AFC standings. Giving the Broncos a seventh loss helps Miami. Plus, the Lions at 1-10-1 are technically not out of the playoffs. It would be fun for a team that did not win until Week 13 to keep playoff hopes alive into mid-December. (CBS Sports put together the entire scenario and all 36 pieces of it that could lead to a Lions playoff berth.) Root for: Detroit.
Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This one is actually confusing. The AFC at NFC rule should say Dolphins fans need to root for Tampa Bay. The AFC East team losing rule should say Dolphins fans need to root for Tampa Bay. A team in a Wildcard position ahead of Miami should say Dolphins fans need to root for Tampa Bay. But, it might actually be better for the Dolphins to keep the Bills ahead of them in the playoff standings. The Bills are currently 7-5, 1.5 games ahead of the Dolphins. They hold the head-to-head tie break over Miami as well, having swept the Dolphins this season. Given the NFL’s rules on multi-team ties starts with the elimination of division rivals, any tie that involves Buffalo and Miami will always favor the Bills. Keeping Buffalo clear of the Dolphins prevents Miami from losing ties involving multiple teams because they lost to Buffalo. This honestly could go either way, but the tiebreak scenario probably tilts this to wanting a Bills win and hoping Miami can make it three AFC East teams in the playoffs this year. Buffalo could fall apart down the stretch, but that does not seem likely. I cannot bring myself to do it though...Root for: Coin toss.
San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals
This is another one that could have both sides argued, despite one of those sides being an NFC team. The Bengals losing to fall to 7-6 is important for the Dolphins. The 49ers losing, however, would improve the Dolphins’ 2022 first-round draft pick. We will look at the more immediate goal of a playoff berth here, though, and stick to the NFC team winning. Root for: San Francisco.
Games with little-to-no impact on Miami:
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Football Team - NFC vs. NFC
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers - NFC vs. NFC
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals - NFC vs. NFC
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers - NFC vs. NFC
Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans - Texans have been eliminated from the playoffs.