How realistic are the Dolphins chances of making the playoffs?

The Miami Dolphins are still alive in the race for the final playoff spot in the AFC.  Before the 2012 season, starting a rookie quarterback, with a rookie head coach, did you think we’d be saying that in week 16 of the season?  It’s even crazier when you think that the Dolphins could be a game or 2 better if they hadn’t let overtime games slip away to the Cardinals and Jets.  The fact that the Dolphins are still on the playoff map at 6-8 comes from a deficiency in the AFC, not their solid play.

Photo Courtesy of Dolphins.com

Photo Courtesy of Dolphins.com

The Dolphins players don’t really want to talk about the playoffs because there are a lot of pieces that need to fall into place before they get there.  A number of those pieces could fall into place this week.  Before we get into how realistic the Dolphins chances of making the playoffs are, let’s look at what needs to happen for them to earn the 6th and final AFC playoff spot:

Dolphins – MUST win vs. Buffalo AND @ New England

Steelers – MUST win vs. Cincinnati AND lose vs. Cleveland

Bengals – MUST lose to Pittsburgh AND lose vs. Baltimore

Jets - MUST lose vs. San Diego OR Buffalo

You may be wondering why the Jets need to lose in order for the Dolphins to make the playoffs, right?  I was surprised, considering the Jets were eliminated from the playoff race with their loss on Monday night.  The Jets have to lose because they hold a tie-breaker against the Dolphins in the event that the Dolphins, Jets, and a 3rd team (Bengals/Steelers) tie with an 8-8 record.  The Jets do not hold the tie-breaker over the Bengals or Steelers if they finish in a 3 way tie at 8-8, but they do hold it over the Dolphins.  Thus, they are eliminated from the playoffs since the best record they can achieve is 8-8.  The Dolphins, meanwhile, would hold the tiebreaker against the Bengals and Steelers, if all teams finished at 8-8.  So they are still alive.  Easy right?  (cont’d on page 2, click below)

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