The Dolphins defeated the Washington Commanders, 45-15, to improve to 9-3 for the first time since 2001 and increase their AFC East lead to three games.
Miami is thinking bigger, though, and is right in the mix for the AFC’s No. 1 seed, which comes with a first-round bye and home-field advantage.
With the Kansas City Chiefs’ loss to the Green Bay Packers and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, the Dolphins enter Week 14 as the conference’s top team.
The Dolphins, who host the Tennessee Titans on “Monday Night Football,” have not won their division since 2008 and have not secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs since 1984.
“I feel like our goal is bigger than the No. 1 seed,” outside linebacker Bradley Chubb said Tuesday. “Our goal is to hoist the trophy at the end and that comes with handling business each and every week no matter what the position is. We kind of just continue the same approach each and every week — the same mindset, the same intensity, the same focus and it’s been working out for us. We try not to look too far down the line and just take it day by day as we practice, and week by week as we play these games.”
The New York Times’ Playoff Simulator gives Miami a greater than 99 percent chance of making the postseason, a 98 percent chance to win the AFC East and a 37 percent chance to get a first-round bye. Just one game separates Miami from the fourth seed in the conference, though.
“Call me when it’s a 13-game season and I’ll be excited to talk about the next game,” coach Mike McDaniel said when asked for his reaction to currently being the conference’s top team.
He added: “My reaction to it is, ‘Oh.’ But irrelevant and erroneous for what’s the most important thing and that’s a game that will be played this week on national television. It will be the only game that matters to each and every player in that locker room. I can just tell by the way they’ve approached the whole season.”
Here’s a look at where the Dolphins stand among the division leaders.
Miami Dolphins (9-3), first seed
The Dolphins have won three straight games and routed the Commanders to start a December slate that ends with a tough three-game stretch against the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills. The team has the seventh-toughest remaining schedule, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. With a head-to-head matchup against Baltimore in Week 17, Miami controls its destiny over the final five games of the regular season.
Remaining schedule: vs. Titans, vs. Jets, vs. Cowboys, at Ravens, vs. Bills
NYT Playoff Simulator chance to get No. 1 seed: 37 percent
Baltimore Ravens (9-3), second seed
Miami currently has the tiebreaker advantage over Baltimore because of a superior conference record. Their Week 17 matchup looms large over playoff seeding, though. Like the Dolphins, the Ravens control their destiny and capture the No. 1 seed if they win out. Baltimore has the second-toughest remaining schedule, according to ESPN’s FPI.
Remaining schedule: vs. Rams, at Jaguars, at 49ers, vs. Dolphins, vs. Steelers
NYT Playoff Simulator chance to get No. 1 seed: 28 percent
Kansas City Chiefs (8-4), third seed
The defending Super Bowl champions have appeared in five straight AFC championship games and have hosted the last four conference title games. But the Chiefs are in unfamiliar territory having lost three of their last five games. The Dolphins lost their Week 9 matchup with the Chiefs in Germany, but the head-to-head loss is no longer a factor with Miami a full game above Kansas City in the standings. The Chiefs hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Jaguars because of their head-to-head win in Week 2.
Remaining schedule: vs. Bills, at Patriots, vs. Raiders, vs. Bengals, at Chargers
NYT Playoff Simulator chance to get No. 1 seed: 24 percent
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4), fourth seed
The Jaguars fumbled the opportunity to take possession of the conference’s top spot but have more pressing concerns after quarterback Trevor Lawrence exited Monday night’s game because of a right high ankle sprain and did not return. Lawrence’s status for Jacksonville’s game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday is uncertain. The Jaguars have one of the easiest remaining schedules — ESPN’s FPI rates their slate as the 10th-easiest schedule — but just hold a one-game lead over the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. It could be a dicey finish without Lawrence.
Remaining schedule: at Browns, vs. Ravens, at Buccaneers, vs. Panthers, at Titans
NYT Playoff Simulator chance to get No. 1 seed: 10 percent