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The simplest, most direct route to the playoffs

At the risk of saying what is terribly complex is actually quite easy to figure out, I would tell you the Dolphins greatest and best chance of making the playoffs is based on one simple three-part scenario.

If you study the scenario on this YahooSports NFL playoffs scenario generator you will see the Dolphins might find themselve back in Foxboro in a few week for a third meeting against the Patriots if three things happen:

1. The Dolphins win out. They do this, we're on our way. They fail to do this, forget everything. So Miami must beat Houston this weekend and Pittsburgh next weekend. Both are home games. This is doable.

One ominous warning, however: I have found no scenario where the Dolphins make the playoffs at 8-8. If they lose this weekend, or next weekend, they are eliminated from the playoff chase. (I worked the scenario generator for 20 minutes to get to this conclusion. If you find a scenario in which and 8-8 Miami makes it, please post it, but I don't think it exists.) 

There is one scenario where the Dolphins make it at 8-7-1 but that's a reach. The Jaguars, interestingly enough, can make the playoffs at 8-8 under one scenario.

But I digress. Back to the original scenario:

2. The Patriots beat Jacksonville this weekend. This is also quite doable. The Patriots are favored against Jacksonville. They have a better record than Jacksonville. And it's a home game for the Pats.

3. Pittsburgh beat Baltimore this weekend. This one is huge. The Dolphins are currently trailing Baltimore in the tie-breakers. But if Pittsburgh makes the Ravens squack, the tie-breaker reverts to Miami -- assuming two victories by the locals. Obviously the Steelers would be in after this weekend and Miami would still be on the outside. But a Miami victory in the final week of the season -- assumed above -- corrects that issue.

It is also vital that Baltimore loses to Pittsburgh. If the Ravens beat Pittsburgh this week but lose to Oakland next week, they still get in ahead of Miami. This is key.

So there it is. The simplest, most direct route to the playoffs for the Dolphins.

You don't have to worry about the Jets, even if they win their final two games. They would not qualify. You don't have to worry about Denver, even if they win their final two games. They would be the No. 5 seed while Miami picks up the sixth seed.

And you don't have to worry about New England. They would win the AFC East and host the Dolphins.


[I stand corrected, the Dolphins make it at 8-8 assuming they beat Pittsburgh, Jacksonville ends up 7-9 and Baltimore loses to Oakland and Pittsburgh. Unlikely to say the least, but I guess it is remotely possible.]