One of the most important NFL games in Week 18 in terms of postseason implications is the one being played between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. While it’s not a win-and-in game for Miami, the result of the contest could affect the playoff fortunes of numerous teams. The Jets can’t make the postseason with a win, but they can, however, still play spoiler.While the game is important, it won’t be what we might have expected it to be a few weeks ago, as both teams will be starting their third-string quarterbacks. The Jets announced Friday that Joe Flacco will be under center with Zach Wilson as his backup, with Mike White ruled out due to a rib injury. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are going with rookie Skylar Thompson at quarterback because both Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) and Teddy Bridgewater (finger) are out due to injuries. White missed the Jets’ Week 15 and 16 games due to the injury though returned for Week 17, but did not look like the same player as he completed just 50% of his passes at an average of 5.2 yards per attempt while throwing zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Flacco last started for the Jets back in Week 3, when he was under center in place of an injured Wilson for the first three games of the season.Thompson filled in for an injured Bridgewater (who was himself filling in for an injured Tagovailoa) in Week 5 and then started Week 6, and again entered the game for an injured Bridgewater in Week 17. The Dolphins lost all three of those games, with Thompson completing 38-of-67 passes for 359 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
In terms of playoff implications, the Dolphins simply need Thompson to deliver a win, as well as get help from the Bills beating the Patriots. The Patriots could also still make it in even if they lose to the Bills, but they need the Jets to beat the Dolphins, the Browns to beat the Steelers and the Jaguars to beat the Titans. The Steelers, meanwhile, need the Bills to defeat the Patriots and the Flacco-led Jets to defeat the Dolphins in order to make it into the postseason. The Jaguars, if they lose to the Titans, can still make it if the Bills beat the Patriots, the Browns beat the Steelers and the Jets beat the Dolphins. Got all that? No? Here’s a look at how it all shakes out:
Patriots (8-8) clinch No. 7 seed with: win at Bills OR Dolphins loss vs. Jets AND Steelers loss vs. Browns AND Jaguars win vs. TitansDolphins (8-8) clinch No. 7 seed with: win vs. Jets AND Patriots loss at BillsSteelers (8-8) clinch No. 7 seed with: win vs. Browns AND Dolphins loss vs. Jets AND Patriots loss at BillsJaguars (8-8) clinch No. 7 seed with: loss vs. Titans AND losses by Dolphins, Patriots and SteelersThe Jets beat the Dolphins in Week 5 at home. They’ll try and go for the season sweep and play spoiler Sunday in Miami.