New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins: How a Fins Win Affects the Playoff Picture

Scott AltmanCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 17:  Matt Moore #8 of the Miami Dolphins looks to pass against the New York Jets during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 17, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Most of the NFL's 2012 playoff picture has come into focus, but Sunday will feature a slew of meaningful games.

One matchup with serious implications is the Miami Dolphins' showdown with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.

The nation's eyes will be glued to this game as Mark Sanchez & Co. try to avert disaster and earn a playoff nod. 

The Jets are vying for the sixth and final seed in the AFC, but they absolutely must win in order to have a chance at securing that berth. 

But what happens if the Dolphins emerge victorious in Sunday's game? Here's how the AFC playoff picture would be affected:

First and foremost, remember that the Cincinnati Bengals have a one-game lead on the sixth seed.

If they win, they are in, and Miami's game is rendered meaningless.

However, they have a daunting matchup with the Ravens coming up on Sunday.

Baltimore needs to win to ensure they get a first-round bye, so they probably won't be resting their starters. This is bad news for an overmatched Bengals team, and a Cincy loss opens the door for three other teams to grab that final playoff berth. 

Next on the pecking order is the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders will be praying for a Dolphins win on Sunday. If the Jets lose, Oakland only needs a Tennessee loss and a victory over the San Diego Chargers to sneak into the sixth seed. 

Finally, we have the Tennessee Titans.

The Titans are a pretty serious longshot for this final playoff spot, but a Miami win would greatly increase their odds.

If the Fins win, Tennessee would only need to defeat the Houston Texans, but would need the Bengals and Raiders to lose.

So before you dismiss Miami's upcoming duel with the Jets as a meaningless game, realize just how much pull the Dolphins have on the AFC playoff situation.

More importantly, the Fins have a chance to eliminate the New York Jets from the 2011 playoffs. 

Regardless of what you got for Christmas, there would be no better present than a Miami victory on Sunday.