The Miami Dolphins now control their own playoff fate and increased their probability of making the postseason significantly on Sunday despite not playing.
The Dolphins’ playoff chances improved from 9% to 17% after Sunday’s AFC results, according to FiveThirtyEight.
As the Dolphins (7-7) took off for New Orleans on Sunday afternoon ahead of their Monday Night Football game against the Saints, they landed in The Big Easy to some good news from the 1 p.m. games.
Wins by the Buffalo Bills (9-6) over the New England Patriots (9-6), Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) over the Baltimore Ravens (8-7), plus the Los Angeles Chargers’ (8-7) stunning upset loss to the lowly Houston Texans, pushed Miami’s playoff chances up to 18% at that moment.
The Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) win over the Denver Broncos (7-8) caused those odds to take one-percent dip, but the Kansas City Chiefs’ win over the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) made it so that the Dolphins control their own playoff fate.
Winning out over the final three games would now secure a spot in the postseason for Miami. A win at the Saints (7-7) on Monday night puts the Dolphins into the No. 7 spot through Week 16 with games at the Tennessee Titans (10-5) and home against the Patriots remaining. It also would increase their chances from 17% to 32%.
The Dolphins are unlikely to remain in playoff contention in any scenario that involves a loss in any remaining game, but if they do finish 2-1 over the last three, the best way to do it would be falling to the NFC’s Saints on Monday while bouncing back against the final two AFC foes.
The key in why the Bills result against the Patriots was so critical was that it puts Buffalo in the driver’s set for the AFC East title, which then pushes New England down to wild-card contention. The Dolphins want that because, with the Patriots now only one game ahead of them, Miami’s win-out scenario involves a win over New England plus the tiebreaker for a season sweep. There was no way Miami could win any tiebreaker involving the Bills after getting swept by them earlier this season.
The Dolphins entered Sunday with a 9% probability to make the playoffs after Thursday’s Titans win over the San Francisco 49ers and Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts victory against the Arizona Cardinals. Both the Titans and Colts are likely to get into the playoffs over the Dolphins with one the champion of the AFC South.
The Dolphins started the season 1-7 before a six-game winning streak put them in this improbable position heading into their final three games. It still is a challenging final stretch with all three opponents at or above .500.
Source: Berkshire mont