The Miami Dolphins with eight games to go will lock up the AFC East by mid-December but will still have to play in the Wild Card round.
Winning the AFC East is not only what fans are hoping for, it is expected now. Miami has five clearly winnable games out of the bye week and then three tough games but they play two of those at home.
If the Dolphins can win their next five games and at minimum take one of their final three, they would have a 12-win season. Why is this a setup to win the division by mid-December?
The Jets in this scenario would be out of the running for the East division. Miami will have swept them. The Bills have one of the toughest schedules left this season. Unlike Miami which faces or faced tough teams spread out, the Bills will play the Eagles, Chiefs, and Cowboys in three consecutive weeks with only the Cowboys at home.
With the way the Bills have been playing, dropping two of those games could put them further behind the Dolphins. Miami will also have the chance to go up a game when the Bills are on their bye week later this year. The Bills have little room to mess up.
Miami should be able to win at least four of the next five. At worst, the Dolphins should win 11 games but 12 seems more than possible and that could give Miami a week 18 meaningless game outside of pride.
12 wins won't be good enough to win the AFC and get a bye week. The Dolphins loss to the Chiefs will make that harder and the Ravens are rolling along as well. I suspect a 3rd seed for Miami this year.