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The Miami Dolphins have made the NFL playoffs just once since 2008 (that came back in 2016) but control their own postseason destiny heading into their Week 17 matchup with the Buffalo Bills, who just recently won their first AFC East title in a quarter-century.

With five teams currently battling for four playoff spots on the AFC side of the bracket, the Dolphins’ chances of making the postseason going into the final week of the season are statistically pretty solid. However, there is still a chance that Miami could miss out on the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.

Let’s take a look at all the scenarios on how the Miami Dolphins could make or miss the NFL playoffs.

If the Miami Dolphins defeat the Buffalo Bills, they make the NFL playoffs

The Miami Dolphins, who improved their record to 10-5 in Week 16 with a dramatic 26-25 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, currently sit in the No. 5 spot on the AFC side of the NFL playoffs bracket heading into Week 17 and only have to beat the Buffalo Bills to clinch.

The Dolphins lost to Buffalo back in Week 2, 31-28, but this is obviously a much different Miami team than what we saw back in September. The Dolphins could also benefit from the Bills possibly resting a few starters on Sunday. Buffalo is currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC and there’s no chance they can get the top spot with the Kansas City Chiefs already locked in at No. 1.

However, if the Bills lose and the Pittsburgh Steelers win, Buffalo would drop to the No. 3 spot. However, it looks as if the Steelers are going to be resting some starters against the Cleveland Browns, who are one of the teams also trying to clinch a spot in the postseason on Sunday. So we’ll just have to wait and see what the Bills do. But no matter what happens in any other game in Week 17, if the Miami Dolphins win, they’re in.

The Fins can still get in with a loss

If the Miami Dolphins tie or lose to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, there are still plenty of ways for them to make the NFL playoffs if just one of the following scenarios plays out:

  • Baltimore loses to Cincinnati
  • Cleveland loses to Pittsburgh
  • Indianapolis loses to Jacksonville
  • Miami ties Buffalo AND Baltimore ties Cincinnati
  • Miami ties Buffalo AND Cleveland ties Pittsburgh
  • Miami ties Buffalo AND Indianapolis ties Jacksonville
  • Miami ties Buffalo AND Tennessee loses to Houston

How do the Miami Dolphins miss the NFL playoffs?

Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins logo | Mark Brown/Getty Images

As all it takes for the Miami Dolphins to get into the NFL playoffs is a win over the Buffalo Bills, their path to completely missing the postseason obviously starts with a loss. So if that happens, Miami heads home for the year if all of the following things happen as well.

  • Cleveland beats Pittsburgh
  • Baltimore beats Cincinnati
  • Indianapolis beats Jacksonville

Scores and schedules courtesy of


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