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Miami Dolphins fan rooting guide Week 13 2023: AFC and NFC playoff picture, clinching scenarios

The Miami Dolphins are in the heat of a tough playoff battle for 2023. What results help the team get to the top AFC seed in their fight? We break down the Week 13 schedule.

Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins were last on the field nine days ago, beating the New York Jets in the Black Friday game for Week 12. The win improved Miami’s record to 8-3 for the season as they continue to keep themselves in the running for the top seed in the AFC playoff picture. As we move into Week 13 of the schedule, what results best help the Dolphins in their quest for home-field advantage throughout the postseason? We break down the schedule.

The Dolphins are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars with the second-best record in the conference. They are all a half-game behind the Baltimore Ravens, who are 9-3 and the top seed in the AFC, but Baltimore is also on their bye this week, giving the rest of the division leaders a chance to close the gap.

The AFC wild-card slots are held by the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4), the Cleveland Browns (7-4), and the Indianapolis Colts (6-5).

Miami’s AFC East lead is up to 2.5 games over the Buffalo Bills, who are 6-6 as they enter their bye week. A Dolphins win on Sunday would move them three games clear of the Bills in the division with five games to play. The New York Jets are third in the division at 4-7 and the New England Patriots are fourth at 2-9.

In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles continue to hold on the best record in the league, sitting at 10-1, followed by the San Francisco 49ers at 8-3, Detroit Lions at 8-3, and the Atlanta Falcons at 5-6.

The Dallas Cowboys, the top wild-card team in the conference, are also keeping the pressure on the Eagles in the NFC East. With a Thursday win over the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas is 9-3 on the year, doing everything they can to stay within striking distance of Philadelphia. The Minnesota Vikings (6-6) and the Seahawks (6-6) hold the other NFC wild card positions.

The NFC side of the playoff picture is led by the Philadelphia Eagles (9-1), followed by the San Francisco 49ers (8-3), Detroit Lions (8-3), and New Orleans Saints (5-5). The wild card positions are held by the Dallas Cowboys (8-3), Minnesota Vikings (6-5), and Seattle Seahawks (6-5).


Week 13 Clinching Scenarios

Philadelphia Eagles clinch playoff berth wit:

  • Eagles win and Rams loss/tie OR
  • Eagles win and Lions loss and Packers loss/tie OR
  • Eagles tied and Rams loss and Packers loss/tie and Falcons loss/tie OR
  • Eagles tie and Rams loss and Packers loss/tie and Saints loss/tie

AFC East standings (through Week 12):

1 - Miami Dolphins (8-3)
2 - Buffalo Bills (6-6) - 2.5 GB
3 - New York Jets (4-7) - 4 GB
4 - New England Patriots (2-9) - 6 GB


AFC playoff picture (through Week 12):

1 - Baltimore Ravens (9-3, AFC North leader)
2 - Kansas City Chiefs (8-3, AFC West leader)
3 - Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3, AFC South leader)
4 - Miami Dolphins (8-3, AFC East leader)

5 - Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4, Wild Card 1 position)
6 - Cleveland Browns (7-4, Wild Card 2 position)
7 - Indianapolis Colts (6-5, Wild Card 3 position)

Houston Texans (6-5)
Denver Broncos (6-5)
Buffalo Bills (6-6)
Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)
Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)
Los Angeles Chargers (4-7)
Tennessee Titans (4-7)
New York Jets (4-7)
New England Patriots (2-9)

Tiebreaks:

  • Chiefs over Jaguars and Dolphins based on head-to-head results
  • Jaguars over Dolphins based on strength of victory
  • Steelers over Browns based on AFC North win percentage
  • Colts over Texans (division tiebreak) based on head-to-head results; Colts over Broncos based on AFC win percentage
  • Texans over Broncos based on AFC win percentage
  • Chargers over Titans and Jets based on AFC win percentage
    Titans over Jets based on AFC win percentage

NFC Playoff Picture (Through Week 13 Thursday Night Football)

1 - Philadelphia Eagles (10-1, NFC East leader)
2 - San Francisco 49ers (8-3, NFC West leader)
3 - Detroit Lions (8-3, NFC North leader)
4 - Atlanta Falcons (5-6, NFC South leader)

5 - Dallas Cowboys (9-3, Wild Card 1 position)*
6 - Minnesota Vikings (6-6, Wild Card 2 position)
7 - Seattle Seahawks (6-6, Wild Card 3 position)*

Green Bay Packers (5-6)
Los Angeles Rams (4-6)
New Orleans Saints (5-6)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
New York Giants (4-8)
Chicago Bears (4-8)
Washington Commanders (4-8)
Arizona Cardinals (2-10)
Carolina Panthers (1-10)

*Played on Thursday Night Football

Tiebreaks:

  • 49ers over Lions based on NFC win percentage
  • Falcons over Saints based on head-to-head results
  • Vikings over Seahawks based on NFC win percentage
  • Packers over Rams and Saints based on head-to-head results
  • Rams over Saints based on NFC win percentage
  • Giants over Commanders (division tiebreak) based on head-to-head results; Giants over Bears based on NFC Win percentage
  • Bears over Commanders based on head-to-head results

Miami Dolphins Week 13 rooting guide:

Chargers at Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

The Patriots are not eliminated from playoff contention with a loss, but a loss and several other teams winning could have New England the first AFC team to be knocked out of a postseason berth this year. The Chargers are 4-7, well behind Miami in the standings and not likely to make up the five games (four games back, plus get ahead of the Dolphins due to Miami holding the head-to-head tie break) it would take to push past Miami should they fall into a wild card battle. A Patriots win would count double in the strength of victory tiebreak for the Dolphins as compared to a Chargers win, but at this point, starting to get teams eliminated from the postseason should be the goal. Ending the Patriots’ chances here becomes the goal. Root for: Los Angeles.

Falcons at Jets, 1 p.m. ET

The first of several AFC vs. NFC matchups, making the choices fairly easy. Even without the basic rule of wanting to see NFC wins over AFC teams, wanting the Jets to lose is a standard position. Makes this a really easy choice. Root for: Atlanta.

Cardinals at Steelers, 1 p.m. ET

The Steelers are just a game back of Miami for a wild card spot if somehow the Dolphins were to be chased down by the Bills over the last third of the season. Pittsburgh losses help the Dolphins in that unlikely scenario. Another NFC versus AFC matchup makes this an even easier choice. Root for: Arizona.

Colts vs. Titans, 1 p.m. ET

This one does not have the advantage of being an inter-conference matchup, but the Colts are 6-5 and in the final wild card position while the Titans have struggled to a 4-7 record. Adding a loss for the Colts has a slight assistance for the Dolphins, while a win for Tennessee does not impact Miami’s current playoff chances, but Miami faces the Titans next week. The Titans improving to 5-7 could help Miami’s strength of schedule/victory tie break considerations after the Week 14 game. Root for: Tennessee.

Broncos vs. Texans, 1 p.m. ET

The Broncos at Texans are tied at 6-5 and are the first two teams on the wrong side of the playoff cut line, neutralizing any easy choice based on the records of the teams. Miami beat the Broncos this season, while the Texans and Dolphins do not face each other on this year’s schedule. The strength of victory tiebreak leads to this choice. Root for; Denver.

Browns vs. Rams, 4:25 p.m. ET

Joe Flacco is back, now as the starting quarterback for the Browns. No one really saw that one coming. Anyway, this is a AFC versus NFC matchup and a chance to get a wild card team a loss. Easy choice. Root for: Los Angeles.

Chiefs vs. Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET

The Chiefs are leading the AFC West, in the second position in the AFC playoff picture, and have the head-to-head win over the Dolphins. All of those lead to wanting to see Kansas City lose. Add in the Packers are an NFC team, and this is a clear choice. Root for; Green Bay.

Bengals vs. Jaguars, 8:15 p.m. ET Monday

This one is not an inter-conference matchup, but it is very similar to the Chiefs and Packers matchup. The Jaguars are leading the AFC South and are in the third position in the AFC playoff picture. They are edging out Miami based on strength of victory right now, but a loss to another AFC team would give Miami the edge in the AFC win percentage tiebreak, taking precedence over the strength of victory option. With the Bengals struggling with injuries this season, this is a clear choice. Root for: Cincinnati.

Games with no impact on Dolphins:
Lions at Saints, 1 p.m. ET
Panthers vs. Buccaneers, 4:05 p.m. ET
49ers vs. Eagles, 4:25 p.m. ET


If all of this were to play out like this (including a Dolphins win), Miami would come out of Week 13 with the AFC’s top-seeded position, moving ahead of the Ravens based on AFC win percentage. Miami would also have a three-game lead in the AFC East. If either the Chiefs or Jaguars win in their primetime games, they will move into the top spot in the conference, with the Dolphins in the second position. A win by both Kansas City and Jacksonville gives the Chiefs the top spot, the Jaguars the second, the Dolphins third, and the Ravens the four position.