The final game of the 2023 NFL regular season will be played between the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football.
It's hard to look at the week ahead knowing that the Miami Dolphins will need a victory over the Buffalo Bills to win the AFC East. The Dolphins have led or been tied at the top of the division all year. Now, they stand the possibility of losing it in the final week.
The NFL recognized the importance of what the game brings. The Bills are on a winning streak and have climbed back into the playoffs. Miami once had a three-game lead in the AFC East but blew a late 14-point lead to the Titans and were blown out Sunday in Baltimore.
Now the division and playoff seeding will be decided on the final week of the season.
The Dolphins have not played well this year on the big stage. After beating the Patriots in week 2 on Sunday night, they lost to the Eagles on a Sunday night and then lost to the Titans on a Monday night. This will be Miami's 4th prime game of the season. The other national game was against K.C. in Germany. They lost that as well.
For the Dolphins, a win secures the 2nd seed in the AFC and the AFC East title, their first since the early 2000s. A loss would drop the Dolphins into the 6th seed.
At 2, the Dolphins would play the 7th seed team in the AFC. That is currently the Colts but this coming weekend could see the Texans jump into the 7th as they play the Colts on Saturday. If the Dolphins lose, they will play on the road against the number 3 team.
The 3rd team in the AFC will likely be the Chiefs as the Bills would jump into the number 2 seed because they beat the Chiefs this year.
One scenario that has a lot of people talking about is what happens if the Bills lose. Should the Jaguars beat the Titans and the Steelers beat the Ravens, a loss to Miami would knock the Bills out of the postseason. The Ravens may sit their starters with nothing to gain in week 18.
When the game kicks off on Sunday night, the Bills will know if they are playing for their postseason lives. It is going to be the biggest game, obviously, of the 2023 season and a game the Dolphins need to win to get back into a winning mentality.