Dolphins remain in playoff contention _ barely

STEVEN WINE AP Sports Writer Published:

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- It might be easier for the Miami Dolphins to make the playoffs than to explain how it could happen.

Both tasks are daunting.

With two games left in the regular season, seven teams have a better record than Miami (6-8) in the AFC race for six playoff spots. The Dolphins have a 2.3 percent chance of earning a postseason berth, according to the web site MakeNFLPlayoffs.com.

Hey, it beats being mathematically eliminated. And it gives the Dolphins something to play for Sunday against Buffalo (5-9).

"I heard we're still in the hunt and still have a chance," safety Reshad Jones said Wednesday. "It does kind of surprise me."

The Dolphins have been above .500 for only one week all season. They recently lost five times in a six-game stretch, and they're ranked in the lower half of the league in both offense and defense.

Even so, they remain eligible. Barely.

"It's a crazy league," said rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who last week erroneously declared the Dolphins out of the playoffs. "You see a strange situation every year. Anything can happen. We've just got to keep plugging away."

Don't ask them to explain the sequence of results that would get them into the playoffs.

"I really have no idea," tight end Anthony Fasano said. "I don't know what it takes. You control what you can control; no need to exert energy on other things."

To have any chance at the postseason, the Dolphins must beat Buffalo and win their regular-season finale at New England.

Four other games in the final two weeks must also go the Dolphins' way. They need for the Bengals to lose their final two games, the Steelers to lose to Cleveland, and the Jets to lose once.

If all of those things happen, the Dolphins would finish tied with the Bengals and Steelers at 8-8 and would win the tiebreaker.

Running back Reggie Bush was among those fuzzy on the details. When they were outlined to him, he shook his head.

"That's too much remembering," he said. "I'm just worried about what we can control."

He offered a slight twist on football's favorite cliche.

"We're just trying to take these next two games one game at a time," Bush said.

First-year coach Joe Philbin hasn't talked about the playoffs all season, and he said it's not a point of emphasis this week.

"The emphasis is a division opponent coming into our home stadium -- a team that we haven't beaten yet," Philbin said. "If you want to be a consistently good football team in the National Football League, you've got to win your home games and you've got to win your division games. So that's the real emphasis this week."

Playoffs haven't been talked about much at the Dolphins' complex for the past decade. They've reached the postseason only once during that span.

A week ago, when the Dolphins had won just one game since Halloween, it was understandable for Tannehill to declare his team a non-contender.

"We realize we're out of the playoff race," he said.

Tannehill was quickly corrected by the coaching staff. Then the Dolphins beat Jacksonville, while two other teams contending for the final wild-card berth lost.

Tannehill made certain his assessment of the Dolphins' playoffs chances this week was more mathematically precise.

"We still have something to play for at this point, even if it may be realistically small," he said. "We just have to go out and take care of what we can, and that's winning Sunday."

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