A Look At The AFC And Miami Dolphins Playoff Chase


There are a few teams that you keep waiting to falter and then they don’t. There are teams you expect to be a runaway the last six weeks of the season and they are the ones who might fall. For the Miami Dolphins, 10-6 is realistic possibility but it’s a narrow margin with no room for error. The Dolphins can afford, possibly, to lose two more games but they have to at least win the other four. It’s a thin sheet of ice or palm fronds if you will but it hasn’t cracked yet…or blown away in a gusty warm South Florida breeze.

For the Dolphins it’s pretty easy, on paper. Beat Minnesota in Miami, beat Baltimore in Miami, beat the Jets twice, and try your damnedest to beat the Broncos and Patriots on the road. We all have a pretty good idea of what needs to happen for the Dolphins but what’s the look of the AFC race like right now? Here is a closer look. We will start in the AFC East.

New England Patriots

If the playoffs started today the Patriots would have home field advantage. They are playing the best football they have in the last two and half years which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the AFC teams. New England is entering a very tough stretch of their schedule but the win against Denver will likely have boosted their confidence after a very shaky start.

Record – 7-2 overall 5-2 in the conference 2-1 in the division.

Remaining schedule: Colts, Lions, Packers, Chargers, Dolphins, Jets, Bills.

The Patriots will face a tough four game stretch that includes three of their next four on the road. Only Detroit is in Foxboro. They will finish the season playing two of three at home including the Dolphins in week 15.

Denver Broncos

The 2nd seed in the AFC is poised to make a stretch run for the first seed if NE falters. On paper they don’t have a very tough schedule that would make you think they will not make strides towards home field advantage. The Broncos are playing good football but defensively there are questions. If the Dolphins were going to lose one of their last six, Denver would hurt the least simply because they are out of the division.

Record 7-2 overall 5-1 in the conference and 3-0 in the division.

Remaining schedule: Rams, Dolphins, Chiefs, Bills, Chargers, Bengals, Raiders.

Kansas City will be a tough game for Denver and the Dolphins defense could give them a solid run but no one else appears to be in line for an upset. Denver can help Miami by beating the Chiefs and Bengals.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts will have no sway over the Dolphins chances to make the playoffs directly. They are running away with the AFC South but could help the Dolphins indirectly by knocking the competition in front of the Dolphins down.

Record 6-3 overall 5-2 in the conference and 3-0 in the division.

Remaining Schedule: Patriots, Jaguars, Redskins, Browns, Texans, Cowboys, Titans

Barring a complete disaster the Colts will win their division easily. Only two games on their schedule impact the Dolphins season. The Patriots this weekend and the Cleveland Browns who are in line for a playoff appearance.

Cleveland Browns

The one team that everyone continues to wait for to fail. The Browns have played good football this season and are sitting on top of their division.

Record 6-3 overall 4-3 in the conference and 2-2 in the division.

Remaining schedule: Texans, Falcons, Bills, Colts, Bengals, Panthers, Ravens

The Cleveland Browns may be making everyone in Cleveland happy right now but their schedule ahead is going to be tough. The Bills, Colts, Bengals, Panthers, and Ravens all have eyes on the playoffs and the Browns will face two division rivals who are looking to take the North out of their hands. If the Browns win the division they need be considered a team who can advance out of round one because they will need to win four of their last six to likely do it. The Browns are likely candidates who will be fighting for a Wild Card birth at the end of the season so they should be monitored closely.

Kansas City Chiefs

We dip into the Wild Card arena now and the Chiefs are the team that holds the fifth playoff spot in the AFC. The Chiefs are playing well but they are a far cry from last years Chiefs that went on long unbeaten streak to start the season. The Chiefs are going to find it difficult given the production they get from their receivers making them a very one dimensional albeit very good offense.

Record 6-3 overall 5-2 in the conference and 1-1 in the division

Remaining games: Seahawks, Raiders, Broncos, Cardinal, Steelers, Raiders, Chargers.

The Chiefs have a tough schedule ahead of them but only the first Raiders game, the Cardinals, and the Steelers are on the road giving the Chiefs a fantastic home field advantage to round out the season. The Chiefs could easily finish the season with 11 wins and not win the division.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are holding the final playoff spot and are fighting to fend off the Steelers and Ravens while all three chase the Browns. The entire AFC North is in position to win the division and the Bengals have a tie under their belt that could catapult them into the top spot relegating the rest of the teams to fight for what could be the sixth seed in the playoffs.

Record 5-3-1 overall, 4-3 conference, 2-1 division

Remaining schedule: Saints, Texans, Buccaneers, Steelers, Browns, Broncos, Steelers

The battle for the AFC North will have reaching effects to the rest of the AFC. The sixth seed will come out of either the West, North, or the East. The Bengals have two huge games against the Steelers and tough games against the Browns, Broncos, and Saints. Of late the Bengals are not playing well and their defense has been very porous. With the season on the line the Bengals will play a deciding factor in two of the vying teams.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens still have a date with the Miami Dolphins in a few weeks. That game will come with a playoff atmosphere as the loser will likely find themselves as close to mathematically eliminated as possible.

Record 6-4 overall 3-4 conference and 2-3 division

Remaining schedule:  Bye, Saints, Chargers, Dolphins, Jaguars, Texans, Browns

The Ravens will take their bye week this week before coming back for three consecutive tough games. Two of which are on the road to New Orleans and Miami and they will round out their season at home with the Browns. It’s possible that the the Ravens could lose two of their next three heading into Miami where they may only be poised to play spoiler.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have been up and down at times this year. After seeing 12 touchdowns from QB Ben Roethlisberger in two weeks the Steelers fell asleep against the New York Jets. What this team can do remains to be seen but they have the potential to be very good in spite of their own issues. Frankly they are still too inconsistent to pencil in as a divisional winner or a sixth seed.

Record 6-4 overall, 5-3 conference, 2-2 division

Remaining schedule:  Titans, Bye, Saints, Bengals, Falcons, Chiefs, Bengals

Pittsburgh has a favorable schedule as they have the ability to compete with all of their next opponents but divisional games are tough and the Bengals could stop them from moving forward after the season into the post-season.

Still in the hunt: San Diego and Buffalo

The Dolphins now own both the head to head against San Diego and the tie breakers against Buffalo with their Thursday night win.