The Miami Dolphins are set to host the New England Patriots on Sunday in a Week 8 AFC East rivalry game. As the NFL schedule moves into the Week 8 games, we are approaching the mid-way point of the season, with teams playing 17 games over 18 weeks. The NFL playoff picture is starting to come into focus, but there are also still a lot of games to be played. What do the Miami Dolphins need to help them on their path to the playoffs in the second half of the season? It is a perfect time to return our weekly Dolphins fan rooting guide.
The Dolphins are 5-2 on the season after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles last week. They now face the New England Patriots in a Week 8 conclusion to the annual home-and-home series between the AFC East rivals. Miami is a game behind the Kansas City Chiefs for the top spot in the AFC playoff picture, with a head-to-head meeting between the clubs next week in Germany.
Behind the Chiefs and Dolphins in the top two positions in the AFC playoff picture are the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars. Baltimore and Jacksonville are leading the AFC North and AFC South, respectively, and are tied with the Dolphins at 5-2, with conference winning percentage deciding the current order between the three.
AFC playoff picture (through Thursday night of Week 8):
1 - Kansas City Chiefs (6-1, AFC West leader)
2 - Miami Dolphins (5-2, AFC East leader)
3 - Baltimore Ravens (5-2, AFC North leader)
4 - Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2, AFC South leader)
5 - Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2, Wild Card 1 position)
6 - Cleveland Browns (4-2, Wild Card 2 position)
7 - Buffalo Bills (5-3, Wild Card 3 position)
Houston Texans (3-3)
New York Jets (3-3)
Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
Indianapolis Colts (3-4)
Las Vegas Raiders (3-4)
Tennessee Titans (2-4)
Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)
New England Patriots (2-5)
Denver Broncos (2-5)
NFC playoff picture (through Thursday night of Week 8):
1 - Philadelphia Eagles (6-1, NFC East leader)
2 - Detroit Lions (5-2, NFC North leader)
3 - San Francisco 49ers (5-2 NFC West leader)
4 - Atlanta Falcons (4-3, NFC South leader)
5 - Seattle Seahawks (4-2, Wild Card 1 position)
6 - Dallas Cowboys (4-2, Wild Card 2 position)
7 - Minnesota Vikings (3-4, Wild Card 3 position)
Los Angeles Rams (3-4)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)
Washington Commanders (3-4)
New Orleans Saints (3-4)
Green Bay Packers (2-4)
New York Giants (2-5)
Chicago Bears (2-5)
Arizona Cardinals (1-6)
Carolina Panthers (0-6)
Miami Dolphins Week 8 rooting guide:
Patriots at Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET
The Dolphins winning helps the Dolphins. Root for: Miami.
Texans at Panthers, 1 p.m. ET
The Texans are floating just outside the wild card positions. This is an AFC versus NFC matchup making this an even easier choice. Seeing the Texans fall back a little from the wild card spots is a positive. Root for: Carolina.
Rams at Cowboys, 1 p.m. ET
This NFC versus NFC does not have a lot of impact on Miami’s playoff chances, but the Dolphins play the Cowboys later this year and the Rams are not on the schedule. For strength of schedule/victory tie breaks, a Cowboys win helps. Root for: Dallas.
Saints at Colts, 1 p.m. ET
The Colts are dealing with injuries, including to rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, but they are within striking distance of a wild card spot right now. Another inter-conference matchup that helps Miami. Root for: New Orleans.
Jets at Giants, 1 p.m. ET
Miami already beat the Giants. They have two games coming up against the Jets, giving them the potential to knock the Jets out of any contention themselves. But, why wait? Root for: New York Giants.
Jaguars at Steelers, 1 p.m. ET
This one is a little more challenging. Both teams are in playoff positions and have winning records. The Jaguars are 5-2 and in first place in the AFC South. The Steelers are 4-2, in second place in the AFC North, and in the first wild card spot. Which way should this go? I lean toward wanting to see the Jaguars lose so Miami’s position as the second seed is a little more safe, but it feels like the smart move is rooting for the Jaguars to win the division while the wild card records fall off - just in case the Dolphins cannot hold on to the AFC East’s top spot. Root for: Jacksonville.
Falcons at Titans, 1 p.m. ET
The Titans are struggling this year and are probably not going to be a factor in the playoffs, but this is still an NFC versus AFC game. Root for: Atlanta.
Browns at Seahawks, 4:05 p.m. ET
The Browns are in the second wild card position and are 4-2 on the year. The Seahawks are in the NFC. Easy choice. Root for: Seattle.
Ravens at Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. ET
The Ravens are in first place in the AFC North, battling with the Steelers, Browns, and Bengals with all four teams in the division at or over .500. One of those four will win the division, but this is again an AFC versus NFC matchup, making the rooting guide decision easy. Root for: Arizona.
Chiefs at Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET
The Chiefs have the best record in the AFC, while the Broncos have the worst record. Miami beat the Broncos 70-20 earlier in the year. Kansas City picking up some losses is a good thing for Miami - though you can argue that Miami facing the Chiefs after a Chiefs loss could be a rougher game next week. We will lean toward seeing Kansas City get losses. Root for: Denver.
Bengals at 49ers, 4:25 p.m. ET
A straight AFC versus NFC match up. Makes this straight forward. Root for: Cincinnati.
Bears at Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET
This game has little impact on the Dolphins, given they beat the Chargers, and Los Angeles is struggling at 2-4. Even though the strength of schedule/victory tiebreak could benefit Miami with a Chargers victory, going back to the NFC versus AFC until the Chargers are eliminated makes more sense. Root for: Chicago.
Raiders at Lions, 8:15 p.m. ET Monday
Another AFC versus NFC matchup. Plus, seeing Dan Campbell do well should be a positive for Dolphins fans. Root for: Detroit.
Games with no impact on Dolphins:
Vikings at Packers, 1 p.m. ET
Eagles at Commanders, 1 p.m. ET