The Miami Dolphins have two options to clinch the AFC East in Week 17, eliminating any chance the Buffalo Bills can come back to win the title for the fourth straight season. The Dolphins are 11-4 on the season and will face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday looking to come out of the game with their first division title since 2008.
If Miami wins, they clinch the AFC East. They also keep alive the hope they can claim the first seed in the AFC playoff picture, a spot currently held by Baltimore, but a Miami win would give the Dolphins the edge. The top seed in each conference also provides the team with a bye for the first round of the playoffs and home field advantage throughout the postseason tournament.
If the Ravens beat the Dolphins, Baltimore clinches the top spot.
The second path for the Dolphins to claim the AFC East title relies on the results of an AFC East rivalry game. The New England Patriots, 4-11 this year and eliminated from the playoffs, could play spoiler as they visit the Bills. A Buffalo loss to the Patriots secures the AFC East for Miami. Both the Dolphins at Ravens and Patriots at Bills games kickoff at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
If Miami loses and the Bills win, the AFC East title will be decided in Week 18 when the Dolphins host Buffalo at Hard Rock Stadium. The Bills beat the Dolphins in the Buffalo side of the two-game inter-division series this year, coming away with the 48-20 victory in October.
Other AFC clinching scenarios this week include the Ravens winning the AFC North with either a win/tie or a Cleveland Browns loss/tie. The Jacksonville Jaguars clinches the AFC South and their spot in the playoff with a win and a loss from both the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans. The Kansas City Chief clinch the AFC West and their playoff berth with a win/tie or a Las Vegas Raiders loss/tie and a Denver Broncos loss/tie.
The Buffalo Bills clinch a playoff berth with:
- Bills win and Pittsburgh Steelers loss/tie and Cincinnati Bengals loss/tie OR
- Bills win and Steelers loss/tie and Jaguars loss/tie OR
- Bills win and Steelers loss/tie and Texans loss/tie and Colts loss/tie OR
- Bills win and Bengals loss/tie and Jaguars loss/tie OR
- Bills win and Bengals loss/tie and Texans loss/tie and Colts loss/tie OR
- Bills tie and Steelers loss and Bengals loss and Jaguars loss OR
- Bills tie and Steelers loss and Bengals loss and Texans loss/tie OR
- Bills tie and Steelers loss and Bengals loss and Colts loss/tie OR
- Bills tie and Steelers loss and Jaguars loss and Texans loss/tie OR
- Bills tie and Steelers loss and Jaguars loss and Colts loss/tie OR
- Bills tie and Steelers loss and Texans loss and Colts loss OR
- Bills tie and Bengals loss and Jaguars loss and Texans loss/tie OR
- Bills tie and Bengals loss and Jaguars loss and Colts loss/tie OR
- Bills tie and Bengals loss and Texans loss and Colts loss
The Browns clinch their playoff berth with:
- Browns win/tie OR
- Steelers loss/tie OR
- Bills loss OR
- Jaguars loss/tie OR
- Texans loss/tie and Colts loss/tie
In the NFC playoff picture, the clinching scenarios include the San Francisco 49ers looking to claim the top spot in the conference standings. With a win and losses from both the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles, the 49ers would lock down the top position.
The Eagles would clinch the NFC East division title with a win and a loss/tie by the Dallas Cowboys. They would also clinch with a tie and a Cowboys loss.
The Seahawks would find their way into the playoffs with a win and a Packers-Vikings tie.