As of Christmas morning the Miami Dolphins are very likely to be playing playoff football for the first time since 2008 — with 92 percent confidence, per Five Thirty Eight’s model.
The formula today is simple: Think of the Broncos like the Jets and hope for their demise. Ignore Ravens-Steelers, as it has no effect on the Dolphins’ playoff hopes.
If the Broncos lose (or tie) to the Chiefs in Kansas City tonight, the Dolphins clinch a wildcard spot. If the Broncos lose (or tie) next week against the Raiders, the Dolphins clinch a wildcard spot.
Remember the following formula: a Broncos loss (or tie) equals a happy Dolphin, whether it’s tonight or next week. I made a visual in case you drank too much last night.
If the Broncos win tonight, the Dolphins can still clinch with a win (or tie) over the Patriots next Sunday.
Considering the Dolphins will automatically clinch with a win or tie over the Patriots OR with a Broncos loss or tie over their next two games (they host Oakland next week), let’s assume the Broncos win both games and the Dolphins lose to the Patriots next week because this is the only way the Dolphins could miss the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Miami, the Pats will be playing for the No. 1 seed in the conference next week (Note: The Pats lock up the AFC with a win or a Raiders loss but the latter doesn’t affect the Pats-Dolphins game because it’s after the fact, being a late afternoon game).
Under this scenario, Miami’s playoff hopes come down to Chiefs at Chargers. If the Chiefs win or tie, the Dolphins would be out. If the Chiefs lose, the Dolphins would be in.