Win and you’re in. That’s the motto Dolphins fans are humming as the team looks for their first playoff berth in eight years. They very well could clinch as early as this weekend.
The Miami Dolphins have the opportunity to earn their first playoff berth since 2008. The great news is that the Dolphins control their own destiny. If Miami wins their final two games they will be guaranteed a spot. In fact, just winning one of the two will almost certainly get the Dolphins in as Josh Baumgard has reported:
That’s up 60% from just a month ago when Miami was 6-4, and had just a 32% chance. After a 1-4 start, the thought of the Dolphins making a playoff run was laughable. Winning 8 of their last 9, however, Miami is firmly in the driver’s seat. Dolphins fans remember all too well when Miami was in the same position in 2013, but lost their final two games to Buffalo and the New York Jets, respectively. So what can Miami do this time around to avoid a similar collapse?
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Well for starters, and similar to their situation in 2013, Miami MUST win at least one of their final two games. Tie-breakers and conference records would all but eliminate Miami if they failed to win either game. Here’s a rundown of how Miami’s playoff hopes can come to fruition.
Scenario #1 – Win Final 2 Games
Pretty self-explanatory here. As I mentioned, Miami controls their own destiny at the moment. Defeating Buffalo and New England in the final two weeks would guarantee the Dolphins a playoff spot. It could also catapult them to the 5th seed into a more favorable matchup with the winner of the AFC South, depending on how other teams in the hunt finish. Miami could still get the 5th seed at 10-6, but it’s unlikely.
Scenario #2 – Win and Denver loss
This is the more likely scenario for Miami, and one that could be completed as early as this weekend. A win at Buffalo combined with a Denver loss to Kansas City would guarantee Miami at least the 6th seed, and eliminate Denver altogether. Even if Denver wins at Kansas City, they have another tough matchup the following week at home against the Raiders. Should the Dolphins lose to Buffalo, but they beat New England next week, they will clinch provided Denver loses one of their games.
Scenario #3 – Kansas City loses twice
If the Dolphins win this week, but the Chiefs fail to defeat the Broncos, Miami will look for San Diego to defeat the Chiefs the following week. This scenario also assumes that the Broncos defeat the Raiders at home. Both Miami and Kansas City would end up tied with Miami holding the tie-breaker.
Scenario # 4 – Four Team Wild-Card tie
This is sort of an add-on to scenario #3. There is the possibility that four teams could finish at 10-6 when it’s all said and done. The good news for the Dolphins is that they don’t need to be concerned so much with how Baltimore and Tennessee, two teams that defeated them head-to-head, finish their seasons. Both are virtually playing for their division titles, and would have no impact on Miami reaching the Wild-Card.
The possibility of a four-team tie would include one Miami win, two Kansas City losses, two Denver wins, two Baltimore wins, and a Pittsburgh victory over Cleveland. This would technically put five teams at 10-6, but the Ravens swept the Steelers, and they would win the AFC North. Should this situation occur, both Miami and Pittsburgh would get the Wild-Card spots.
Even though Miami won their head-to-head matchup, the Steelers would get the 5th seed. Kansas City would hold the tie-breaker over Denver because of a better division record. In turn, Pittsburgh would hold tie-breakers over both Kansas City and Miami because of better conference records. Miami would then hold the tie-breaker over Kansas City because of a better record in common games, and receive the 6th seed.
Miami could be in trouble however, if Kansas City finishes 11-5. A three-team tie between Pittsburgh, Denver, and Miami, would give Pittsburgh the final spot because of conference record. If you’re confused, it’s understandable, which is why it’s best for Miami to just take care of business themselves.