AFC playoff scenarios in final week: Miami Dolphins barely holding on
By Luke Allen
The 2022-23 NFL regular season is set to come to an end this weekend, barring any delays or re-scheduling, and the Miami Dolphins still have hope.
The Miami Dolphins, sitting deadlocked at 8-8 are on the outside looking in and need some serious help if they want to see the postseason. Here are some scenarios we could see play out on Sunday:
Dolphins win, Patriots lose, Steelers win
This is obviously the favorable outcome for the Dolphins.
If the Tua-less Dolphins can defeat a reeling New York Jets team and an emotional Buffalo Bills team can will out a win against New England, then the Dolphins are in at the 7-seed.
While the Dolphins and Steelers would finish with the same record fighting for the final wildcard spot, Miami would take the tiebreaker assuming Pittsburgh wins their game against Cleveland.
Whether the Steelers win or lose, they would be eliminated if either the Dolphins or Patriots win.
Dolphins lose, Patriots lose, Steelers win
In this scenario, Pittsburgh gets the final wildcard spot in the AFC, leaving New England and Miami out of the playoffs.
This is a pretty simple scenario, as Pittsburgh would own a 9-8 record, while both the Patriots and Dolphins would sit at 8-9.
Dolphins win, Patriots win
The easiest way to understand this scenario is that if the Patriots win on Sunday, the Dolphins’ playoff chances are zero.
The Patriots own the tiebreaker if both teams win, based on the division record. Any scenario in which the Patriots win is lights out for Miami’s season. The Dolphins need a huge favor from the Buffalo Bills, but they need to take care of business themselves, too.
Dolphins lose, Patriots lose, Steelers lose
If the losing trifecta occurs on Sunday, the Patriots remain the 7th and final wildcard team. Unless…
If the Titans defeat the Jaguars and all three of the aforementioned teams lose, the Titans win the AFC South and the Jacksonville Jaguars will slide into the final AFC wildcard slot at 9-8, holding a divisional record tiebreaker over the Patriots!
The bottom line
If you’re a Dolphins fan, you need to beat the Jets and you need the Patriots to lose. Any other scenario won’t help.
Mathematically, unless those two things happen, there is no other way for the Dolphins to make the playoffs, which is a real shame considering how the season started.