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Sunday night update: An early look at Dolphins playoff scenarios

A few quick tidbits on the Dolphins’ playoff chances:

### As you know, Baltimore and Miami are both 6-6 --- a game ahead of the Steelers, Jets, Chargers and Titans for the final playoff spot --- and the Ravens would win the tiebreaker against the Dolphins if they’re the only two teams that finish tied for the AFC’s sixth playoff spot. That's because Baltimore beat Miami in October.

The good news, from a Dolphins perspective, is that the Ravens have a challenging remaining schedule: Minnesota, at Detroit, New England and at Cincinnati. The Dolphins play at Pittsburgh, home against the Patriots, at Buffalo and home against the Jets.

So if the Dolphins beat either Pittsburgh or New England --– and beat the Jets and Bills --– the Dolphins would claim the final playoff spot if the Ravens simply go 2-2, presuming there’s a two-team tie for the final playoff spot. On paper, that’s a real possibility.

### If there’s a three-team tie, it’s not so clear cut. On the positive side, Baltimore wouldn’t necessarily win the tiebreaker over the Dolphins in a three-team tie. (That still has to play out.)

Head-to-head cannot be used to break a three-way tie for a wild card berth involving teams in different divisions --- unless all three teams played each other. Conference record would then be used as a tiebreaker.

Hypothetically, if San Diego finished tied with the Dolphins and Ravens, then Miami (5-3 in conference) could grab the sixth spot if it finishes with a better conference record than the Chargers (3-6 in conference) and the Ravens (6-4 in conference). That’s because the Ravens and Chargers aren’t playing this season.

Keep in mind the Ravens still have two games left against NFC teams; Miami has none. Any Baltimore loss would help, but losses in its two AFC games (Patriots and Bengals) would especially help should there be a three-team tie for the last spot.

The third three-team tiebreaker -- if needed -- would be record against common opponents, minimum four games.

### Another possible way for the Dolphins to make the postseason: If Baltimore catches Cincinnati (8-4) to win the AFC North. The Bengals’ remaining schedule isn’t easy: Indianapolis, at Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Baltimore.

If Baltimore beats the Bengals in their season finale and if the teams finish with the same record, the Ravens would win the tiebreaker and claim the division title in this scenario. That’s because Baltimore already beat Cincinnati, and a Week 17 win would give the Ravens a two-game sweep of the season series.

Under that scenario, the Dolphins then would win a two-team tiebreaker over Cincinnati by virtue of their win against the Bengals on Halloween.

### If the Dolphins lose to the Steelers Sunday, Pittsburgh would win a two-team tiebreaker over the Dolphins and would still have two more home games (Bengals, Browns) sandwiched between a visit to Green Bay. So Pittsburgh still very much looms as a threat to Miami.

### There’s a good chance the Colts (8-4) or Bengals (8-4) will be the No. 3 seed. If the Dolphins make the playoffs, they would almost assuredly be the No. 6 seed and would meet the No. 3 seed in a first-round playoff game. So while the Dolphins would go into that playoff game as an underdog, they would have the confidence of knowing that they beat both Indy and Cincinnati earlier this season.

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