No more qualifiers: The Dolphins can win their way into the playoffs without any help.
Miami moved into the No. 6 spot in the AFC playoff field with its 34-13 win at the Jets on Saturday and Denver’s 16-3 loss to New England on Sunday. Kansas City currently holds the fifth seed at 10-4, followed by the Dolphins at 9-5.
Baltimore, Tennessee and Denver are next at 8-6 each.
The wildcard spots are all that remains for Miami after the Patriots clinched the AFC East for the eighth straight year. The fifth or sixth seed would place Miami on the road against the third or fourth division winner (currently Pittsburgh and Houston).
The Dolphins’ remaining schedule is somewhat favorable. They visit Buffalo on Saturday and finish the season Jan. 1 against New England. If they fall into a tie with Tennessee or Baltimore, those teams have the tie-breaker because they won head-to-head.
A tie with Denver would be settled by record against common opponents. The Broncos are 2-3; the Dolphins are 1-3, and their game against New England would count.
The Dolphins’ simplest route to the playoffs is winning their next two games. They also make it if they beat Buffalo and get a loss by Denver at Kansas City on Sunday.
FiveThirtyEight, which currently projects the Chiefs and Dolphins to get the wildcard spots, created a tool that allows you to punch in any combination of results and get updated playoff probabilities.
The Dolphins currently have a 55 percent shot, and that would rise to 92 percent by beating the Bills. A loss at Buffalo would lower it to 29 percent, though FiveThirtyEight still gives them a 2 percent chance to get in even if they lose out and finish 9-7.
Miami has not made the postseason in eight years and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2000.
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