The Miami Dolphins‘ playoff hopes remain alive and well. However, they no longer control their own destiny and one loss could be all it takes to miss out on the postseason for the fifth-consecutive year. With that said, Dolphins’ faithful won’t be able to resist keeping their eyes on several key AFC matchups during the final four weeks of the season. In addition to Miami’s showdown versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, here are some games with playoff implications to monitor in Week 14:
The Ravens are the Dolphins’ biggest competition for the AFC’s sixth seed. They boast an identical 6-6 record, but possess the head-to-head tiebreaker over Joe Philbin‘s club. Unless Baltimore overcomes a two-game deficit to win the AFC North or one of the 5-7 teams get hot enough in December to force a three-way tie, the Dolphins will need to finish the season with a better record than the defending Super Bowl champs to make the playoffs. The Vikings will be a heavy underdog on the road, but have played competitively in recent weeks. Dolphins fans would be thrilled if Adrian Peterson and company are able to pull off an upset for Minnesota.
Root for: Minnesota.
Being that the Bengals and Ravens play each other in Week 17, all the Dolphins need is Cincinnati to lose on Sunday, Week 15 or Week 16 to control their own destiny. Miami owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bengals given their victory in Week 9, so finishing tied with Marvin Lewis‘ squad for the final playoff spot would suffice. The Colts have had an up-and-down season, but have the talent to win on the road at Paul Brown Stadium.
Root for: Indianapolis.
In the unlikely scenario the Ravens win all of their remaining games and the Bengals win in Week 14, 15 and 16, the Dolphins could still get into the playoffs if the Chiefs stumble to a 1-3 finish. If Miami loses once in the final four weeks, it could also hope for Kansas City to lose out, which would give it seven-consecutive losses after a 9-0 start. The Redskins are in the midst of a nightmare season, but they are more than capable of competing with the Chiefs.
Root for: Washington.
In case the Dolphins lose a game — and they more than likely will — fans should hope one of the AFC’s 5-7 teams finish the year strong. If the Dolphins, Ravens and a team like the Chargers all sit at 9-7 at year’s end, Miami could sneak into the playoffs with the superior conference record of the bunch. While a 4-0 finish to 2013 is not likely for the Chargers, they’re schedule isn’t so daunting outside of a trip to Denver in Week 15.
Root for: San Diego.
The Jets appeared to be dead in the water a week ago, but they remain alive in the Wild Card race. A loss on Sunday to the Raiders would all but officially seal their fate.
Root for: Oakland.
The Titans are another team that could help the Dolphins by finishing 4-0. Their slim playoff hopes will likely end on Sunday versus the Broncos, though.
Root for: Tennessee.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.