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What Dolphins win over Cowboys in Week 16 means for NFL playoff picture in AFC/NFC

The Miami Dolphins beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16. We break down what it means for the AFC & NFC playoff picture.

Tyreek Hill #10 of the Miami Dolphins runs the ball after a catch while defended by Damone Clark #33 of the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on December 24, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins held on at home for the 22-20 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16. Despite this being a clash of non-conference leaders, the result still has ripple effects across both conferences. Let’s take a look at how the Dolphins victory affects the AFC and NFC playoff pictures.

Miami moves to 11-4 with the win and remains atop the AFC East with a two-game lead over the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins remain the No. 2 seed in the playoffs but await the Baltimore Ravens game against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. If Baltimore wins, they stay at No. 1. If they lose, it will go to a tiebreaker. That result would be nearly meaningless for now, though, as the Dolphins and Ravens play in Week 17. If Baltimore wins this week and loses next, Miami will be the No. 1 AFC team heading into Week 18. If Baltimore loses Monday and wins next, they will be No. 1 heading into the final week of the regular season.

Dallas has already clinched a playoff spot, so the loss doesn’t hurt them as much as it could’ve. It does have big ramifications, as they have now fallen behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the division. Dallas moves to the No. 5 seed in the NFC as a result, and the Eagles get bumped up to the No. 3 seed ahead of their game on Monday against the New York Giants. The Cowboys have a big game next week against the Detroit Lions and end the season on the road against the Washington Commanders in Week 18.