Bills Dolphins: Win Or No Playoffs


I realize we are only in Week 11 of the NFL season, but Thursday night’s rumble between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins is virtually an elimination game.  Here’s why.  Both teams sit at 5-4, and both teams will face the Broncos in Denver and New England in Foxboro late in the year, where both teams are nearly impossible to beat.  Can it be done? Of course.  But is it likely? Not so much.

That would give Thursday night’s loser 7 losses, not to mention the fact that their remaining schedules don’t get much easier after they face the Broncos and Pats.

After leaving Miami, the Bills remaining games looks like this:  home vs. the resurgent (2-8) NYJ, home vs. (6-3) CLE, @ (7-2) DEN, home vs. (6-3) GB, @ (0-9) OAK, @ (7-2) NE.  Realistically, the Bills could win 3 of those games, specifically against the Jets, Browns and Raiders.  They would still be underdogs against the Browns at home.  Therefore, if they lose Thursday night against the Dolphins, that puts them at 8-8, or even 7-9 if they lose to Cleveland.  In an AFC that has been more competitive than ever before in the last decade, that is not enough wins to make the playoffs.

Now let’s consider the Dolphins remaining games, which aren’t much easier than the Bills.  Luckily, Miami has already beaten the Pats once, and will get to face the Jets twice. After Thursday, their season looks like this:  @ (7-2) DEN, @ (2-8) NYJ, home vs. (6-4) BAL, @ (7-2) NE, home vs. (4-5) MIN, and home vs. (2-8) NYJ.  I see the Dolphins winning 3 of those games for sure, with a close game expected against Baltimore, which luckily, will be played in Sun Life Stadium.  I give home-field advantage to the ‘Phins in that one, giving them 4 wins to close the season.  That would put the Dolphins, if victorious Thursday night against the Bills, at 10-6.  That magic number of 10 wins may good enough to earn a wildcard spot or even the AFC East title, given the horrendous mess of games that AFC North will play against each other as the season winds down.

Therefore, with tough remaining schedules, the Bills and Dolphins both desperately need a win Thursday night.  Their playoff hopes almost certainly count on it.  If not, both teams would need to upset either the Pats or Broncos on the road, which is as tall a task as there is in this league.  Two teams, one winner, one playoff spot.  What a story line we have entering Thursday’s game.