Another Miami miracle? Here’s how the Dolphins could steal the AFC East title from the Patriots
Could the Dolphins win the AFC East? It's possible
Thanks to the "Miami Miracle," the Dolphins are now just two games behind the Patriots in the AFC East, which means they're now in prime position to overtake New England. If the Dolphins were to win the division, it would be almost as stunning as the 69-yard game-winning play they pulled off on Sunday, and that's mainly because the Patriots have won every AFC East title since 2009.
The odds might be stacked against Miami to win the division, but they've pulled off a miracle before, so let's not rule anything out.
Here's a look at who the Dolphins and Patriots play over the final three weeks, along with the most plausible scenario for Miami to steal the division.
- At Minnesota
- At Buffalo
What has to happen: If the Dolphins want to win the division, the easiest way to make that happen is to win out, which might not be easy for a team that's been terrible on the road this year. In six away games, the Dolphins have gone 1-5 and things won't be getting any easier this week when they travel to Minnesota. The Dolphins also have to visit Buffalo, a city where the Bills have won five of six against the Dolphins. Of course, it's not a completely dire situation for the Dolphins. For one, they're getting a Vikings team that will be coming off a short week after playing on Monday in Seattle. The Vikings also seem to be in disarray . As for the Bills, their home-field advantage hasn't been much of an advantage this year: Buffalo is just 2-4 at New Era Field, which means both road games are winnable. Dolphins' final record in this scenario: 10-6.
- At Pittsburgh
- NY Jets
What has to happen: For the Dolphins to steal the division in this scenario, the Patriots would have to go 1-2 over their final three games. Although it's a long shot, it's definitely not out of the realm of possibility. For one, the Patriots have to go on the road and face a desperate Steelers team this week. That game won't be easy, and it's one that Pittsburgh could certainly win. After that, the Dolphins would just need the Jets or the Bills to pull off an upset. Of course, that's asking a lot, and that's mainly because the Patriots are 26-2 in divisional home games since 2009, but as we saw on Sunday, miracles do happen. Patriots' final record in this scenario: 10-6. Dolphins win AFC East based on division-record tiebreaker.
Note I: The Dolphins could also win the division with a 9-7 record, but that would involve the Patriots losing their final three games, which doesn't seem plausible, so that scenario isn't included here.
Note II (Patriots doomsday scenario): If the Patriots do finish the season with a 10-6 record, they could actually end up missing the playoffs entirely. The simplest way for that to happen would be the Titans winning out to finish 10-6. If the Dolphins, Patriots and Titans were the only two 10-6 teams, Miami would get the AFC East title and Tennessee would get in the wild-card based on their head-to-head win over New England. In this doomsday scenario, the Patriots would miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Of course, before Patriots fans start panicking, I should probably point out that our projection at SportsLine is giving the Dolphins just a 0.1 percent chance of winning the division. On the other hand, maybe Patriots fans should panic, because the Dolphins have beaten those exact odds before.
if playoff scenarios are your favorite thing this time of year, be Browns -- seriously, the Browns -- could end up winning the AFC North.how the
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