The Miami Dolphins are in a place where they never expected to be a few weeks ago. After Week 12, heading into their Week 13 bye week, the Buffalo Bills were 6-6 and looking like a team about to become an after thought in the AFC playoff picture and the battle for the AFC East division title. Miami was 8-3, in complete control of the division and looking to cruise into the playoffs.
Fast forward five weeks, and things look very different. Miami has gone 3-2 over that span while the Bills, with their Week 13 bye week, are 4-0. Now, heading into a head-to-head matchup in Week 18, the Dolphins are 11-5 while the Bills are just a game back at 10-4. A Bills win in Week 18 ties the division rivals at 11-6 on the season, with the Bills claiming the head-to-head tiebreak thanks to a season sweep.
Week 18 is for the AFC Championship.
The Bills have won the last three AFC East titles, while the Dolphins have not won it since 2008. Buffalo is finding ways to get wins, even when they are not playing their best football. The Dolphins were completely blown out on Sunday by the Baltimore Ravens, who claimed the top seed in the AFC playoff picture with the win.
The Ravens’ holding the top spot leaves the second seed for the winner of the Dolphins-Bills contest. The third seed Kansas City Chiefs, who are playing as this is being written, are 9-6 on the season. If the Dolphins win against the Bills, their 12-5 record would stay ahead of the Chiefs. If the Bills claim the division title, their 11-6 record could be tied with the Chiefs, but the Bills have the head-to-head advantage on the Chiefs and would stay ahead of them in the seeding.
Week 18 is for the second seed in the AFC playoff picture, guaranteeing at least two home playoff games with a win in the wild card round.
This Week 18 contest between the Bills and Dolphins at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium is the 116th all-time regular-season meeting between the division rivals. And it is bringing with it so much more than just the normal rivalry.
The NFL is expected to announce the Week 18 schedule - slating all 16 games into Saturday or Sunday timeslots - later tonight. The Bills at Dolphins game has enough riding on it that a flex into the Sunday Night Football season finale would make sense.
We will update the schedule as soon as it is released. Whatever time Buffalo and Miami kickoff, this game is huge.