Miami Dolphins Playoff Scenarios: December Is All About Seeding

The Miami Dolphins are almost certainly going to the playoffs. But there's a big difference between going as the No. 1 seed and the No. 4.

The Miami Dolphins enter Week 13 as virtual locks not only to make the playoffs but also to do so as AFC East champions.

Thanks to their Week 12 win over the New York Jets and losses this weekend by the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, the Dolphins’ magic number to capture their first divisional title in 15 years is just four.

What that means: Any combination of four Dolphins wins or Bills losses will not just put the Dolphins in the postseason for the second straight year; it’ll guarantee them just their second home postseason game in more than two decades.

Miami Dolphins Close in on Playoff Berth

The Bills’ overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles gave the Dolphins (8-3) a whopping 97% chance to win the AFC East, per the New York Times’ simulator.

The second-place Bills fell to 6-6 and the 10th seed in the conference, behind the likes of the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, and Denver Broncos.

The Times gives the Bills — who still have games against the Chiefs, Cowboys, and Dolphins on the schedule — roughly a one-in-six chance to return to the postseason for the fifth straight year.

So the question at this point isn’t if the Dolphins — whose next three opponents are a combined 12-22 — are going to host a playoff game, but how high of a seed they will earn.

The Times gives the Dolphins — who were the AFC’s third seed ahead of Sunday night’s Chargers-Ravens game — a one-in-five chance to earn a first-round bye.

The tiebreakers are murky at this point. The Dolphins have played just one of the six other AFC teams currently in the postseason field — the Kansas City Chiefs, who beat Miami in Germany in Week 9.

A big Week 17 showdown with the Ravens looms. That likely will be an elimination game for the 1 seed.

But if the Dolphins finish tied along with the Jaguars, Steelers, or Browns, the tie will first be broken by conference record (the Dolphins are 6-2), then common opponents, then strength of victory (the Dolphins’ .315 SOV is the worst in the conference).

The Dolphins, through the 4 p.m. window, had the 17th-ranked strength of remaining schedule (.500).

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