The Miami Dolphins aren't quite in victory formation when it comes to making the 2016/17 NFL playoffs. However, the complexion of their chances took a major turn for the better in Week 15. Firstly, Miami won their game to improve 9-5 while the Denver Broncos lost to fall to 8-6. What those results set up is a situation where the Dolphins are now in control of their own destiny when it comes to getting into the post-season.

Evaluating Miami's playoff chances

When evaluating the Dolphins' playoff chances, it has to be stated from the onset that they are looking only at a Wild-Card entry at best. Miami cannot catch the New England Patriots in the AFC East as the Pats are 12-2.

With two weeks to go, a three-game deficit is too much to make up.

Miami can still enter the post-season as either the 1st Wild Card team or the 2nd. Currently, they hold the 2nd spot behind the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that dropped to 10-4 in Week 15. If Miami win both of their remaining games and KC lose both of their's then the Dolphins will be the top Wild Card (ie. the 5th seed in the AFC). If Miami and KC are tied then it goes to tiebreakers with the in-conference record counting. Currently KC have the edge from that point of view.

Miami Dolphins remaining schedule

Miami's remaining schedule is certainly a tricky one. They have the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, a game that will come from Buffalo where the Bills are 4-3.

In the final week, the Dolphins have to travel to New England to face the Patriots. That could easily be a loss, unless the Dolphins catch New England in coast mode. The Pats, after all, may look forward to the playoffs with little concern for improving their regular-season record by the time Week 17 rolls around.

Currently, Miami's main antagonists for the 2nd Wild Card are Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Houston, Tennessee, Indianapolis, and Denver. Division titles will take two of those teams out of the mix, but it's not clear which two yet. Importantly, the first tiebreaker in the Wild Card race is head-to-head. Miami have a win over Pittsburgh so if you are a Miami fan that's a team you don't mind Miami tied with at season's end for the 2nd Wild Card.

However, the Dolphins lost to Baltimore and Tennessee so those teams would win the 2nd Wild Card if they were tied with Miami for it.

Miami guarantee themselves a Wild Card with two wins. If they finish 9-7 then they will be very likely to miss the post-season. 10-6 may be good enough, but then they have to hope for the stars to align in their favor. Things do get tricky because of the automatic bid with the divisional titles. For example, if both Baltimore and Miami finished 10-6 then Baltimore would hold the tiebreaker for the Wild Card -- but the Ravens would also win their division with a 10-6 record and not be in the Wild Card picture at all. It's situations like that that test the logical reasoning of those that try to break things down.

The way it looks is that Miami need to beat Buffalo next weekend at all costs to get to 10-5. It's then possible that a lot goes Miami's way in the other games. However, the Dolphins cannot head into Week 17 needing to beat New England in a game that the Pats will host if the Dolphins want to keep their playoff hopes very optimistic.

As far the other games, Miami fans want Baltimore to lose games to create separation. It would be better if Tennessee won the AFC South, because it would take the Titans out of the Wild Card picture (Tennessee would beat Miami in a tiebreaker, while Houston may not). Miami fans also want Denver to lose their games with the Broncos facing KC and Oakland. If you find it all confusing and want to keep it simple, then Miami are in the playoffs with two wins.

Anything less and you'll likely have to read about tiebreaking scenarios.

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