NFL Playoff Picture: How Dolphins’ Week 16 win impacts Patriots originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Miami Dolphins just won’t go away.
The Dolphins beat the New Orleans Saints in their Week 16 “Monday Night Football” matchup to improve to 8-7. The victory moved Miami into the third wild card spot as the No. 7 seed in the AFC, one game behind the rival New England Patriots.
The result also extended the Dolphins’ win streak to seven games, making them the first team in NFL history to have both a seven-game win streak and seven-game losing streak in the same season.
The Dolphins control their own destiny on the path to the playoffs. Miami will clinch at least a wild card spot if it closes the season with two more wins.
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How does Miami’s win impact the Patriots and the rest of the AFC playoff picture?
Here’s breakdown entering Week 17.
Week 17: vs. Falcons
Week 18: vs. Jets
Week 17: vs. Jaguars
Week 18: at Dolphins
Week 17: at Titans
Week 18: vs. Patriots
There are still a lot of teams in the mix for these three wild card playoff berths. The Patriots have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chargers and Browns. They don’t have it against the Colts and Dolphins (for now).
5. Indianapolis Colts, 9-6 (First wild card)
6. New England Patriots, 9-6 (Second wild card)
7. Miami Dolphins, 8-7 (Third wild card)
9. Baltimore Ravens, 8-7
10. Los Angeles Chargers, 8-7
11. Las Vegas Raiders, 8-7
12. Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-7-1
13. Cleveland Browns, 7-8
14. Denver Broncos, 7-8
1. Buffalo Bills, 9-6
2. New England Patriots, 9-6
3. Miami Dolphins, 8-7
4. New York Jets, 4-11
The Bills, Patriots and Dolphins all have a chance to win the division.
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The Dolphins’ path is the toughest because they need to win their final two games and have both the Patriots and Bills lose their final two games.
The Bills control their own destiny in the AFC East race, while the Patriots need Buffalo to lose at least one more time for a chance to claim the division crown.
The Patriots’ path to a playoff spot is fairly simple. If they win their last two games versus the Jaguars in Week 17 and Dolphins in Week 18, they’ll secure at least a wild card berth.
The Patriots can still win the AFC East, but as noted above, they need the Bills to lose at least one of their final two games against the Falcons and Jets. It’s unlikely Buffalo will lose to either of those teams, especially when you consider the division is at stake. Therefore, it’s no surprise FiveThirtyEight’s predictive model gives the Patriots just a 12 percent chance of winning the division.
The Patriots could also miss the playoffs if they lose out, but that’s pretty unlikely and would require a few of the teams below them to win their final two games. New England would actually clinch a playoff berth Sunday with a win over the 2-13 Jaguars plus a loss by either the Dolphins or Raiders.