The Miami Dolphins are the odds-on favorite to earn the sixth seed in the AFC, as all three things that Miami needs to have happen are favored to happen among the 8-7 teams.
Under the simplest of NFL playoff tiebreaker scenarios, the Dolphins (8-7) need to defeat the Jets combined with EITHER a Ravens loss or a Chargers win to earn the final playoff berth in the AFC.
The Chargers (8-7) and Ravens (8-7) will each need an upset (based on Las Vegas oddsmakers) to advance. The Bengals are 6 1/2-point favorites against the Ravens, and the Chargers are favored by 10 points vs. the Chiefs. The Dolphins are 5 1/2-point favorites against the Jets. The Bengals, Chargers and Dolphins are all playing at home.
One possible negative for the Dolphins will occur if the Ravens upset the Bengals. Miami will then need San Diego to beat Kansas City in a 4:25 p.m. start (Miami and Baltimore start at 1), but at that point, the Chargers will have been eliminated from the playoffs.
If there's a three-way tie between the teams at 9-7, the Dolphins hold the edge because of their 7-4 conference record over the Ravens' 6-5 conference record and the Chargers' 5-6 mark.
If the Dolphins lose to the Jets, New York would finish second in the AFC East with both teams eliminated.
If the Dolphins happen to tie the Jets, they would need a Baltimore loss, plus a San Diego loss or tie. Or, in a truly unlikely scenario, Miami would be in if the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers all end their games in a tie.
The Bengals have already clinched the AFC North, but still have something to play for against the Ravens. They have a shot at becoming the second seed in the AFC and earning a first-round bye if they defeat the Ravens and the New England Patriots lose to the Buffalo Bills.
The Ravens need to defeat the Bengals combined with EITHER a Dolphins loss or a Chargers loss to earn the sixth seed in the AFC.
The Chiefs are already locked into the No. 5 seed and coach Andy Reid is expected to rest many of his key starters against the Chargers, including quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles, linebacker Tamba Hali and wide receiver Dwyane Bowe.
The only way the Chargers can make the playoffs is by beating or tying the Chiefs, while both the Ravens and Dolphins lose.
If the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns and the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers all lose, the Steelers would earn the final playoff spot.
If all four teams going after the last AFC wild-card berth win their games, the Dolphins are in. If all four lose, the Ravens are in.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun