The Miami Dolphins enter Week 12 tied with the New York Jets for the AFC‘s final playoff spot. The Jets currently own the tiebreaker over the Dolphins given their superior record within the AFC East, and there are six 4-6 teams that sit only one game back in the race.
Miami need only focus on its current opponent with a one-game-at-a-time mentality, but fans will undoubtedly be doing some serious scoreboard watching for the duration of the season or until the final Wild Card spot is decided.
From now until either scenario comes to fruition, I’ll be doing a weekly scoreboard watching guide that will feature which games Dolphins fans should monitor and which teams they should be rooting for as the playoff race intensifies. Here’s the slate for Week 12:
New York Jets (5-5) at Baltimore Ravens (4-6)
The Dolphins won’t need to worry about the Jets if they can beat them twice in December. Rex Ryan‘s squad will be difficult to sweep, though, and there’s a good chance the Jets will hang on to the tiebreaker if they split with the Dolphins and end the season with the same record. Miami will need the Ravens to play poorly down the stretch as well, as they lost at home to Baltimore back in Week 5, surrendering a potential head-to-head tiebreaker. On Sunday, however, Dolphins fans should hope their archival loses back-to-back games for the first time all season. Really, though, this is a win-win, lose-lose game to the Dolphins.
Root for: Baltimore
The Dolphins own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Browns after beating them in Week 1 and will get the opportunity to best the Steelers in Week 14. In the event Miami falls in Pittsburgh, however, the Dolphins would benefit from a Steelers’ loss in Cleveland on Sunday. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are much more capable than the Browns of making a late-season run, and the schedule is setting up nicely for them to do so.
Root for: Cleveland
The Chargers fell to two games under .500 with a loss to the Dolphins this past Sunday, but Philip Rivers is still more than capable of getting San Diego rolling in the final weeks of the season. A loss on Sunday to the Chiefs would all but eliminate them from the playoff race, though.
Root for: Kansas City
Neither the Titans or Raiders appear to be too threatening to the Dolphins’ bid to qualify for the postseason as the six seed. The sooner both teams stop hanging around the better, though. After Sunday’s matchup with the Titans, the Raiders only face one more team that currently owns a losing record. The losses should begin to pile up for them down the stretch. The Titans, meanwhile, have a stingy defense capable of keeping them competitive against most teams. Tennessee is the bigger threat, and Dolphins fans should root against them on Sunday.
Root for: Oakland
The Dolphins are in prime position to compete for the six seed in the AFC, but don’t forget they are only two games back in the race for the AFC East crown. The Patriots could easily lose their second consecutive game on Sunday night against what is perhaps the NFL‘s top team, and if the Dolphins can find a way to upset the Panthers they could pull within one game of their division rival. With a home game against New England scheduled for Week 15, Miami certainly isn’t out of the running for a division title yet.
Root for: Denver
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.