The Miami Dolphins are one of only eight teams with postseason hopes in the AFC. They are currently 6-8 but consecutive wins can vault them into a wild card game. There are only six things that must happen since the Tennessee Titans eliminated the New York Jets on Monday. Luckily for Miami, Mark Sanchez is not their quarterback. Sanchez and Mike Tannenbaum are receiving plenty of heat in the Big Apple. Miami fans have to be excited that their team is alive in Week 16 of the 2012-2013 NFL Season.
The Miami Dolphins must defeat the visiting Buffalo Bills on December 23rd. While the Bills defeated the Dolphins 19-14 earlier in the year, Miami will be favored at home. Last week, the Seattle Seahawks scored 50 on the lackluster Bills. Buffalo has nothing to play for and, while it is a divisional game, Miami has all the intangibles in their favor.
The Week 16 schedule is favorable for Miami and they will likely be alive headed into Week 17. Then there is huge trouble. If the Jacksonville Jaguars defeat the New England Patriots in Week 16, then the Pats will likely have nothing to play for. The chances of that happening are minimal and the Patriots will probably be playing for a bye on December 30th. The Dolphins have to go into Foxboro and defeat, arguably, the best team in the AFC.
Probability: Very Unlikely
With the Bengals loss in Week 16, the Baltimore Ravens will already be the AFC North champions. The Ravens likely will not be in contention for a playoff bye and Cincinnati would need a victory to keep their postseason dreams alive. How much do the Ravens hate the Bengals? Do they need a tuneup for their probable wild card game the following week?
The Steelers host the Cleveland Browns on December 30th and need a win to make the playoffs. The Browns can be the spoilers but how motivated will Trent Richardson and company be? Miami hopes a divisional game against the hated Steelers is motivation enough.
Probability: Very Unlikely
Despite being eliminated from the playoffs, the Jets can still spoil Miami's playoff hopes. If everything falls into place for Miami and the Jets win out, there will be a four way tie between Miami, New York, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. The tie is broken first by division. The Jets and Dolphins split their season series and would each be 3-3 in their division. The teams' records versus common opponents would be the deciding factor. Only three opponents will make a difference, Indianapolis, Arizona, and Seattle. The Jets defeated Indy and Arizona while Miami lost to both. Miami defeated Seattle, who crushed the Jets. In the end, the Jets would win this tiebreaker but lose the final tiebreaker to Pittsburgh, since the Steelers beat them this season.
So if all of the aforementioned games play out favorably for Miami but the Jets win out, Miami is left out of the NFL playoffs.
If the Jets lose one game, against the Chargers or the Bills, then Miami clears its final hurdle.
Probability: Very Likely
The Jets have lost all of their fight and major changes, in addition to quarterback, are on their way.
The Miami Dolphins exceeded expectations in 2012 with a rookie quarterback and coach. Making the playoffs would be icing on the cake.
If Miami does not make the playoffs, they will turn to a draft that will offer them five selections in the top three rounds. This is a team that can become very good, very fast.