Dolphins return from bye with an opening in AFC. Breaking down remaining schedule

Christian Wilkins vehemently shook his head.

Outside of his obligations as a football player, Wilkins is a big fan of the NFL and loves watching teams and his fellow defensive lineman.

But as the Dolphins returned from their bye week, he couldn’t tell you where the team is currently in the AFC standings.

Asked then if he knows where Miami is in its own division, Wilkins’ answer was terse.

“No,” he quickly said.

Where the Dolphins currently are isn’t as important to them as where they hope to be in the next few weeks. And while Miami didn’t play in Week 10, the developments across the AFC were favorable to them.

Both the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars were defeated last Sunday, leaving three of the conference’s division leaders with three losses. The Kansas City Chiefs, who were also on a bye, are in sole possession of the No. 1 seed with a 7-2 record.

The Dolphins, at 6-3, remain in first place in the AFC East and the fourth seed in the conference, behind the Jaguars by virtue of a weaker strength of victory.

Miami, though, has an opportunity to elevate its standing in the conference in the second half of the season. Five of the team’s final eight games are at home, where the team has been difficult to beat in recent years. The Dolphins are 16-2 in their last 18 games at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Dolphins also have a weaker-than-average slate left. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Miami has the 20th-strongest remaining schedule. The Dolphins have beaten all the teams on their schedule so far with a .500-or-worse record.

And with a Week 17 road matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, the Dolphins have the chance to get a head-to-head win over a top conference opponent that could be pivotal in deciding postseason seeds.

“What was important to me is that we take advantage of the rest,” coach Mike McDaniel said, “but we build upon everything that we’ve really built in these first nine games, which has been unbelievable for this team, for the journey in front of us. It’s not as easy as the successes are positive and the negatives are negative. We’ve got really good on-time training, real-life training this team has, on the things that are going to hit us in the face moving forward. Us getting back to work, us being fresh, and us remembering the first quarter or the first half of the process, being attached to that and doing right by all that work each and every day, starting today which is what I prioritized. The X’s and O’s and stuff we’ll work into the meetings as the week progresses, with Wednesday starting it.”


  1. Miami Dolphins (6-3, 2-1 division)

  2. Buffalo Bills (5-4, 1-2 division)

  3. New York Jets (4-5, 1-1 division)

  4. New England Patriots (2-8, 2-2 division)

*Standings are entering Monday Night Football

ESPN’s Football Power Index projections give the Dolphins a 93.9 percent chance to return to the playoffs for the second consecutive season. It also gives Miami a 73.7 percent chance of winning the AFC East — it would be the franchise’s first division title since 2008 — and a 9 percent chance to win the Super Bowl, the fourth-highest in the league.


  1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)

  2. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3)

  4. Miami Dolphins (6-3)

  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3)

  6. Cleveland Browns (6-3)

  7. Houston Texans (5-4)

  8. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)

  9. Buffalo Bills (5-4)

  10. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

  11. Las Vegas Raiders (5-5)

  12. Los Angeles Chargers (4-5)

  13. New York Jets (4-5)

  14. Denver Broncos (3-5)

  15. Tennessee Titans (3-6)

  16. New England Patriots (2-8)

*Standings are entering Monday Night Football

Here is a breakdown of the Dolphins’ remaining schedule:

Week 11: vs. Las Vegas Raiders (Sunday, 1 p.m.)

Skinny: The Raiders have won two games in a row since firing Josh McDaniel as head coach and at 5-3 are right in the mix in the AFC’s playoff picture. The Dolphins, though, have handled non-elite teams. All six of their wins have come against teams that don’t have a winning record.

Week 12: at New York Jets (Nov. 24. 3 p.m.)

Skinny: When the NFL schedulemakers put the Dolphins and Jets together for the first Black Friday game, the hope was for a divisional matchup between two AFC contenders and elite quarterbacks. It has played out that way for Miami but not so much for New York, which lost Aaron Rodgers on the offense’s first drive of the season. The defense has held up, but the offense has been shaky under Zach Wilson.

Week 13: at Washington Commanders (Dec. 3, 1 p.m.)

Skinny: Quarterback Sam Howell is giving Tua Tagovailoa competition for the league’s leader in passing yards. Howell (2,783 yards) and Tagovailoa (2,609) rank first and third, respectively, although Howell has played an extra game. Howell is also the most-sacked quarterback in the NFL, which could be good news for a Dolphins defense that ranks eighth in the statistical category.

Week 14: vs. Tennessee Titans (Dec. 11, 8:15 p.m.)

Skinny: The game originally looked like a homecoming for former Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill and his first game in Miami since being traded to Tennessee in 2020. Instead, the Dolphins will likely face rookie Will Levis. The prime-time matchup will be the Dolphins’ first home “Monday Night Football” game since the 2017 season.

Week 15: vs. New York Jets (Dec. 17, 1 p.m.)

Skinny: The Dolphins will have to face their divisional rival on a short week but they will get to do so at home. Miami has won seven games in a row against the Jets at Hard Rock Stadium.

Week 16: vs. Dallas Cowboys (Dec. 24, 4:25 p.m.)

Skinny: The Christmas Eve matchup is likely one of the few remaining against a team that will have a winning record. Miami has struggled against good teams this season; all three of its losses have come to teams that are above .500. All those defeats, though, were on the road. That won’t be the case time this around.

Week 17: at Baltimore Ravens (Dec. 31, 1 p.m.)

Skinny: The rematch of last season’s Week 2 thriller could be flexed into the prime-time window and could have huge ramifications with the playoffs just two weeks away. Last year’s meeting in Baltimore marked a coming-out party for Tagovailoa in a six-touchdown performance and the franchise’s second-largest comeback win.

Week 18: vs. Buffalo Bills (Jan. 7, Time TBD)

Skinny: This game is also likely to have postseason implications, whether it decides the AFC East, a wild-card spot or overall seeding. The Dolphins have closed the gap with the Bills but the last time they faced off, Miami was given its worst loss of the season, a 48-20 defeat in Week 4.