The opening round of the 2024 NFL playoffs begins on Saturday, with three days of games making up “Super Wild Card Weekend.” The Super Bowl contenders are down to just 14 teams, seven in each conference, with six from each playing this weekend. The Baltimore Ravens, as the top seed in the AFC playoff picture, and the San Francisco 49ers, the top team in the NFC, get a bye, joining the tournament next weekend in the Divisional Round.
For the Miami Dolphins, who enter the weekend as the sixth seed in the AFC, the path to a possible Super Bowl appearance will not be an easy one. They most likely will be on the road throughout the playoffs and they are probably going to have to find a way to beat three teams to whom they lost in the regular season. It starts on Saturday night with a visit to the Kansas City Chiefs.
What can make Miami’s path to a potential appearance in the title game easier? We take a look at this weekend’s schedule, breaking down the Dolphins’ fan rooting guide for Wild Card Weekend.
UPDATE: The NFL and New York State have agreed to delay the Steelers at Bills game from Sunday to Monday due to an expected blizzard that will hit the area. The schedule and rooting guide below has the updated schedule for the weekend.
2024 Wild Card Weekend Schedule and Dolphins Fan Rooting Guide
The point of the rooting guide is to try to set up the Dolphins with the best situation possible in the Divisional Round. There is only one point in the playoffs where Miami could potentially host a game, and that would be in the AFC Championship game, with several upsets happening on the schedule. If Miami were to have to face one of these two teams in the Divisional Round, facing Houston in Texas with a roof on the stadium sounds better than heading to Cleveland, where Miami would likely be facing another cold weather game. Root for: Houston.
Pretty simple. Usually, I omit the Dolphins game in the rooting guide because we are always rooting for Miami, but since this is also a full schedule of this weekend’s games, it is included here. Root for: Miami.
This game is a complete toss up on how Dolphins fans should root, as most of the NFC side of the bracket really is, but I am going to lean Dallas’ way here. Miami beat the Cowboys this season and, should it come to a Dolphins vs. Cowboys Super Bowl, Miami knows they can beat Dallas again and it could also be a chance to avenge the team’s Super Bowl VI loss to Dallas in the first-ever meeting between the two franchises. Root for: Dallas.
This one is easy. Former Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell is the coach of the Lions, which makes me want to see the Lions do well. Root for: Detroit.
The weekend’s schedule oddly plays the three AFC games first, then the three NFC games. The last of the games that directly impact the Dolphins is this game. The rooting guide is two-fold here. First, seeing the Bills knocked out of the playoffs and avoiding a third Dolphins-Bills contest this year, knowing Miami has struggled to match up with Buffalo over the last several years, is a great idea. Second, if the Steelers pull off the upset, the Dolphins do not have to head to Baltimore in the Divisional Round, leaving that to the Steelers - and Miami was crushed by the Ravens just a couple of weeks ago. Avoiding that rematch in the second round of the playoffs, leaving it for a potential AFC Championship game, seems like a good idea as well.
Also, if the Steelers can pull off an upset of the Bills and the Ravens, that could set up Miami to host Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game. Not a likely scenario, but finding the best path is the point of the rooting guide, right? Root for: Pittsburgh.
I am a little torn on this one. A third Cowboys vs. Eagles game this year could be a great game to watch, but the Baker Mayfield storyline as the Buccaneers’ quarterback is fun as well. I am going to make this decision based on the coaches - former Dolphins interim head coach Todd Bowles is the head coach of the Buccaneers while (in my opinion) overly smug Nick Sirianni is the head coach of the Eagles. Root for: Tampa Bay.
If this rooting guide played out like this, the Divisional Round games would be:
(7) Pittsburgh Steelers at (1) Baltimore Ravens - AFC
(6) Miami Dolphins at (4) Houston Texans - AFC
(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (1) San Francisco 49ers - NFC
(3) Detroit Lions at (2) Dallas Cowboys - NFC