In week 17 the New York Jets will travel to Miami to wrap up the 2013 season. The Miami Dolphins may still be alive for a playoff spot. The Jets will have a shot at getting some revenge for the 20-3 drubbing they took on Sunday. It could have been and should have been worse. The victory was the widest margin of the season for the Dolphins and aside from the memory of a Monday night game a decade or so ago, nails actually managed to survive being bitten off.
The win doesn’t put Miami in control of their own destiny and maybe that is a good thing. If they want it, they will work for it. One slip up could take the Dolphins out of contention just as easy as one victory has put them in a decent position to get in to the post-season. Miami’s schedule isn’t brutal but it won’t be easy either.
The Dolphins visit balmy Pittsburgh on Sunday and a win would knock the Steelers out of the post-season. A loss and they will allow the Steelers back into the race and lose another head to head tie-breaker. They face New England at home before wrapping against Buffalo on the road and then the Jets game.
Sitting in front of Miami is the Baltimore Ravens who have positioned themselves nicely to earn that sixth and final seed but there is a possibility that Baltimore could still win the AFC North. Cincinnati leads the division by two games and while it seems like a large margin given the four games remaining in the season, Baltimore owns the head to head vs. the Bengals and they face each other in week 17. If the Bengals lose one game out of the next three, they will face a showdown with the Ravens that could potentially decide Miami’s fate as well.
A win by Baltimore in week 17 could force a tie atop that division and the edge would go to the Ravens moving Cincinnati back into the Wild Card chase. As of this weekend, Miami is the only other team tied for that sixth spot and they own the head to head with Cincinnati. Behind Miami are four teams sitting at 5-7 and Miami owns the tie-breaker over two of them. San Diego and New York. It’s that reason that this weekends game becomes so important as the Dolphins would then hold tie-breakers over three of the four teams. Only Tennessee has no head to head against Miami.
Obviously rooting agains the Ravens becomes important for the chances for the Dolphins. As much so as wins by Miami. It’s fun to talk about the playoffs but in reality the only team that must win is the Dolphins and while Pittsburgh isn’t the dominant team they have been in the past they are a team with their backs against the wall and those teams can be extremely dangerous. The Dolphins had a very solid game on Sunday but they have to have that put away and out of mind. Total focus must be on Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh only. Let the fans enjoy the Jets route.
This weeks Playoff contender schedules look like this.
Colts Vs. Bengals
The Colts have all but officially clinched a playoff birth even though they have been struggling lately. It is in the Dolphins best interest for the Bengals to lose. It sets up a bigger showdown with the Ravens who could eventually move out of the sixth seed into the fourth.
Raiders Vs. Jets
The Raiders are not the joke they have been for the last several years. They are playing very good and tough football but the trip from Oakland to the East coast may not bode well for them against a team who has last their last three. The Jets have serious offensive issues and their defense is no longer bailing them out. Is there any question you will root for the Raiders?
Vikings Vs. Ravens
The Vikings just knocked off Chicago and while they have struggled all season they still have Adrianne Peterson running the ball. They will need a lot of running from AP this week to hide their poor passing game. Conversely the Vikings defense is getting better but they will still struggle to stop Ray Rice and the Raven passing game. While not exhausting, the Ravens passing attack can be simplistic and methodical in it’s approach…which does lead to wins.
Titans Vs. Broncos
The Broncos lost a close one to NE a week ago and pulled out a close win against the Chiefs on Sunday. Denver is a high potent offense but Tennessee has a pretty decent defense. Probably not quite that good though. The Tennessee offense struggles against fast defenses so it’s likely that Tennessee will be out of this game early. If they are not, consider yourself lucky if you watch it as it may turn into a good game…or not. A win by Denver and a win by Miami puts the Dolphins two games up on the Titans with three to go. While it won’t eliminate the Titans as a threat it will definitely give Miami a big edge.
NY Giants Vs. San Diego
The Chargers lost on Sunday and in reality a win would have put the Dolphins, at least for a week, in that sixth seed slot but one loss by the Chargers would have put the Ravens back in. Getting an idea of how close all this is becoming? The Chargers will host a team who has nothing but pride to lose and while they still have an outside shot at the playoffs, their margin for error is slimmer than Miami’s. The Chargers, if they lose will be about the same. You don’t really want to root for a competitor but understand this. The Dolphins have no control over their destiny and have only three ways of making the playoffs as of this week. 1: Baltimore loses one game. 2: The Bengals lose the division to Baltimore and thus Miami beats the Bengals head to head. Or 3: There is a three way tie for the sixth seed at seasons end and two of those teams are teams Miami has beaten. Do you root for San Diego? Maybe not but if they do win, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Plus the game has no implication on AFC Conference record.