Dolphins playoff rooting guide for Week 16

Kyle Crabbs
·3 min read

The Miami Dolphins cannot clinch a berth in the AFC playoffs this weekend, but Miami certainly can see their playoff positioning improved with outcomes across the league. It starts, first and foremost, with a win tonight against the Las Vegas Raiders. But there’s a lot more at stake — and here’s everything you need to know about Week 16 and the impacts on the Dolphins’ playoff chances for the end of the season.

Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders

As previously mentioned, a lot of Miami’s playoff hopes ride on finding a win tonight versus the Raiders. With a win, Miami’s playoff odds (according to FiveThirtyEight) jump from the 28% they’re currently given to 46% before factoring in any other outcomes this weekend or next weekend — which would be a “win and in” scenario for the Dolphins when they visit the 2020 AFC East division champion Buffalo Bills.

With a loss to the Raiders, Miami’s playoff odds dip to just 7%.

New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens

The impact on the Dolphins is negligible, because Miami already has the leverage on Baltimore based on current records in the AFC. With Baltimore playing an NFC opponent this weekend, only a small number of percentage points ride on this contest. If the Dolphins win and the Ravens lose, their playoff odds are boosted from 46% to 48%. A Ravens win with a Dolphins win has no impact on Miami’s postseason chances.

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers

This contest is another “low leverage” game for the Dolphins. Both teams currently sit in front of the Dolphins in the playoff order — and a Colts win only drops the Dolphins’ playoff odds to 42% under the circumstances that we see a Miami win tonight against the Raiders. A Steelers win does next to nothing for Miami as well — only extending Miami’s playoff odds from 46% with a win to 50%.

Cleveland Browns at New York Jets

Here is your “high leverage” game for the Dolphins this weekend, Dolphins fans. And before there’s too much gloom and doom regarding Miami needing a Jets upset to help secure a playoff berth, remember that the Jets just upset the Rams this past weekend for their first win. Add in the Jets narrowly losing to the Patriots and Raiders over the past month and New York has at the very least been competitive more often than not.

If the Jets score an upset and it is paired with a Dolphins win, Miami’s playoff odds shoot to 68% — thanks to the Browns having a date with Pittsburgh in Week 17 that gives Miami hope of a playoff berth even if they finish tied at 10-6 with Cleveland at the end of the line.

Week 17 implications

The Dolphins’ best chances for a win in Week 17 come, of course, with the Buffalo Bills sitting their starters to rest for the postseason. In order for that to happen, we’ll likely need to see the Bills clinch the No. 2 seed in the AFC ahead of their contest with Miami. That scenario plays out with several Week 16 outcomes — but thankfully for Miami they’re all fairly straight forward.

  • Bills defeat Patriots

  • Colts defeat Steelers

  • Packers defeat Titans

  • Chiefs defeat Falcons

This group of four outcomes paired with a Miami win technically drops Miami’s playoff odds — but that doesn’t account for Buffalo having no upward or downward mobility in the conference standings and almost assuredly sitting key starters against the Dolphins next week. This outcome plus a Browns upset would leave Miami at 64% playoff odds before accounting for Buffalo’s personnel decisions.