The Miami Dolphins come of their bye week still needing a lot of help from around the AFC to fight their way from a fringe team in the 2021 NFL playoff picture to a team in realistic position to make a run. The Dolphins are doing everything they can to fight back from a 1-7 start, having won their last five games, but Week 14 actually hurt the team in their comeback attempt.
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, Miami entered Week 14 with an 11 percent chance to make the playoffs. No team has ever gone from 1-7 to the postseason, so Miami being in double-digit chances seems to show just how much they have turned around their season already. After all of the Week 14 AFC games have been played, Miami’s chances dropped to 10 percent. There is help needed for the Dolphins.
The top of the AFC playoff picture still has the New England Patriots holding on to the number one seed as they come off their bye week. However, they are now in a three-way tie for the spot, claiming the position based on having the best intra-conference winning percentage (7-1 to Tennessee’s 6-3 and Kansas City’s 4-4). The Tennessee Titans are second, winning the tiebreak over the Kansas City Chiefs based on head-to-head results. The Baltimore Ravens hold on to the fourth seed as the AFC West leaders at 8-5.
The three Wildcard teams are currently the 8-5 Los Angeles Chargers, the 7-6 Indianapolis Colts, and the 7-6 Buffalo Bills. Three more AFC teams are 7-6, but on the wrong side of tiebreaks, with the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and Denver Broncos all just on the outside of the playoff picture. The Colts take the top position among the group after the inter-division tiebreak is used to give Cleveland the nod over Cincinnati based on head-to-head results, with Indianapolis holding the best AFC conference record over the rest of the group (Colts at 6-3, Bills at 5-5, Browns at 4-5, Broncos at 3-5). The same results push the Bills into the seventh spot. The Browns then take the eighth position, one out of the playoffs, in the same set of tiebreaks. The Bengals, no longer being eliminated from multi-team ties with Cleveland set in a position, beats out Denver based on conference record (Bengals 5-3). Denver then slides in as the tenth team in the conference.
At 6-6-1, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the 11th seed.
The Dolphins are tied with the Las Vegas Raiders at 6-7, with Las Vegas slotting ahead of Miami due to head-to-head results.
Everyone else in the AFC, the New York Jets (3-10), Houston Texans (2-11), and Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11), have been eliminated from playoff contention.
AFC Playoff Picture
1. New England Patriots (9-4, AFC East leader)
2. Tennessee Titans (9-4, AFC South leader)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4, AFC West leader)
4. Baltimore Ravens (8-5, AFC North leader)
5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5, Wildcard 1)
6. Indianapolis Colts (7-6, Wildcard 2)
7. Buffalo Bills (7-6, Wildcard 3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1)
NFC Playoff Picture
1. Arizona Cardinals (10-2, NFC West leader)*
2. Green Bay Packers (10-3, NFC North leader)
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3, NFC South leader)
4. Dallas Cowboys (9-4, NFC East leader)
5. Los Angeles Rams (8-4, Wildcard 1)*
6. San Francisco 49ers (7-6, Wildcard 2)
7. Washington Football Team (6-7, Wildcard 3)
* Cardinals at Rams Monday Night Football results pending; ARI win leaves all seeding the same, LAR win moves GB to first seed, TB to second seed, and ARI to third seed
Detroit Lions (1-11-1)