The Miami Dolphins are finally getting a rest. After playing through the first 13 weeks of the 2021 NFL season, the bye week is finally here for the Dolphins and they can take a breather, collect themselves, and get ready for one final push toward the postseason. Despite starting 1-7, including a seven-game losing streak, the 6-7 Dolphins are just outside the AFC playoff picture, with the possibility of not only joining the “in the hunt” teams, but of becoming the first team to start 1-7 and make the playoffs. It would mark an incredible turnaround for a team once among the league’s worst.
Since the Dolphins have the week off, we are going to take a look this afternoon at the rest of the NFL and the Week 14 schedule (plus Week 13’s Monday Night Football contest tonight). Can Miami get some playoff picture help this week? Using the opening point spreads for each game, brought to us by DraftKings Sportsbook, we will take a look.
First up, the Monday Night Football game tonight. This game will feature two of Miami’s AFC East rivals as the New England Patriots visit the Buffalo Bills. There is a lot of love for the Patriots, currently holding the top spot in the AFC playoff standings, around the media right now, despite it seeming like everyone’s preseason prediction was the Bills to win the AFC this year. The Bills are favored in this game, but only by 2.5 points. Given it is in Buffalo and the home team typically is given a three-point advantage, it seems like the Patriots are positioned to pull off the upset here.
If the Patriots win tonight, they stay in the first spot in the AFC. If they lose, the Tennessee Titans move up into the top spot and the Bills replace New England atop the AFC East standings, climbing into the second seed while the Patriots fall to the fifth seed.
For our look at Week 14, we will use the current playoff standings, with the knowledge that things will shift around tonight. The same seven teams will still be in the playoff positions after the game, but the seeding will be different.
1. New England Patriots (8-4, AFC East leader)
Week 13 results: Pending
Week 14 opponent: Bye
2. Tennessee Titans (8-4, AFC South leader)
Week 13 results: Bye
Week 14 opponent: vs. Jacksonville, 1pm ET, 12/12
The Titans are favored by 9.5 points in this AFC South matchup. The Titans are 1.5 games ahead of Indianapolis in the AFC South standings, but they are struggling right now after losing Derrick Henry to a foot injury in Week 8. Coming off their bye week, they may be able to figure out somethings with the hope that they can right the ship - they are currently on a two-game losing streak - and that Henry may be able to return some time this month. The Dolphins face the Titans, and former quarterback Ryan Tannehill, in Week 17, meaning Miami could hope the Titans fall back into a Wildcard position, then look to beat Tennessee to lock down the head-to-head tie break. Unfortunately, based on the opening point-spread, it looks like the Titans will be able to move to 9-4.
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-4, AFC North leader)
Week 13 results: Loss, 20-19 @ Pittsburgh
Week 14 opponent: @ Cleveland, 1pm ET, 12/12
The Ravens are the underdog here, getting 2.5 points from Cleveland. That may or may not be good news for Miami, who needs one of these teams to start dropping in the standings. Cleveland is currently 6-6 on the year, meaning a loss would move them into a tie with the Dolphins at 6-7, a good situation for the Dolphins who are two spots behind the Browns in the current playoff picture. However, a win for the Browns, while moving them to 7-6, would move the Ravens down to 8-5 and, given the injuries the Ravens are currently trying to overcome, it could be more likely they keep falling. The ideal here is probably the Ravens run away with the AFC North, while Cleveland falls back in the playoff picture, but it could work out better the other way - especially since the Dolphins have the head-to-head tie break over the Ravens. When it comes to the AFC North, the Dolphins just need some of these teams to pick up some losses over the next few weeks, no matter who it is.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4, AFC West leader)
Week 13 results: Win, 22-9 vs. Denver
Week 14 opponent: vs. Las Vegas, 1pm ET, 12/12
The Chiefs are favored by 9.5 points, though really they do not matter to the Dolphins as long as they stay in the lead of the AFC West. If the Chiefs can win out, they will hand losses to Las Vegas, Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Denver over the final five weeks of the season. Everyone one of those teams picking up losses helps Miami. Here’s to a 13-win Chiefs!
5. Buffalo Bills (7-4, Wildcard 1)
Week 13 results: Pending
Week 14 opponent: @ Tampa Bay, 4:25pm ET, 12/12
This could be a crucial game for the Dolphins. If the Bills are to lose tonight to the Patriots, they fall to 7-5, 1.5 games ahead of Miami. If they then go to Tampa Bay, where the home team is currently a three-point favorite, and lose again, Buffalo would be 7-6, just a game ahead of the Dolphins. While the AFC East could have three teams get into the playoffs, it would be better for Miami to move ahead of the Bills in the standings, just so they have a little buffer room. Given Buffalo swept the Dolphins this year, it is not going to be an easy task, but a couple of losses over the next six days could make it interesting.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (7-5, Wildcard 2)
Week 13 results: Win, 41-22 @ Cincinnati
Week 14 opponent: vs. New York Giants, 4:05pm ET, 12/12
This one kind of hurts. The Chargers are a 10-point favorite over New York, the second-largest spread on the schedule right now (Green Bay is am 11-5 favorite at home over Chicago). The Dolphins could use an upset here to drop the Chargers to 7-6.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5, Wildcard 3)
Week 13 results: Loss, 41-22 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Week 14 opponent: vs. San Francisco, 4:25pm ET, 12/12
The Bengals are slight favorites, with just a one-point spread right now. These two teams seem fairly equal and you are not exactly sure what you are going to get from either of them. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow dislocated his pinky finger against the Chargers, but played through it the rest of the way and is expected to play this week as well. A San Francisco win here would help Miami’s playoff chances. Of course, the Dolphins have the 49ers’ first-round pick here, so a San Francisco loss that could lead to them missing the playoffs does help the Dolphins as well. But, we are focused on the playoff picture, so hopefully the one-point spread indicates the 49ers could pull off this upset.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1)
Week 13 results: Win, 20-19 vs. Baltimore
Week 14 opponent: @ Minnesota, 8:20pm ET, 12/9
Ties are just infuriating. Anyway, the Vikings are a three-point favorite early in the week. The good news for the Dolphins is, Pittsburgh is the away team in the Thursday Night Football matchup, which typically is a disadvantage given the short week and the travel time requirements. Hopefully that holds true and the Vikings are able to push the Steelers to 6-6-1, just ahead of Miami’s 6-7 record.
9. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
Week 13 results: Win, 31-0 @ Houston
Week 14 opponents: Bye
10. Las Vegas Raiders (6-6)
Week 13 results: Loss, 17-15 vs. Washington
Week 14 opponents: @ Kansas City, 1pm ET, 12/12
The Chiefs are 9.5-point favorites and would help the Dolphins by knocking the Raiders down to a 6-7 tie with Miami.
11. Cleveland Browns (6-6)
Week 13 results: Bye
Week 14 opponents: vs. Baltimore, 1pm ET, 12/12
The Browns are favored by 2.5 points, though, as we said above, the Ravens pulling off the upset might be the best result for the Dolphins.
12. Denver Broncos (6-6)
Week 13 results: Loss, 22-9 @ Kansas City
Week 14 opponents: vs. Detroit (1-10-1), 4:05pm ET, 12/12
The Broncos are favored by eight points as they face the Lions, who picked up their first win of the season in Week 13. Can the Lions make it two in a row, upsetting the Broncos? It would be a nice gift from former Dolphins interim and current Lions head coach Dan Campbell.
13. Miami Dolphins (6-7)
Week 13 results: Win, 20-9 vs. New York Giants
Week 14 opponents: Bye