It was a worst-case scenario Sunday for the Miami Dolphins, and the result is that they once again will be spectators when the NFL playoffs start.
Hours after losing 34-3 at Tennessee, the Dolphins officially were eliminated from playoff contention when the Los Angeles Chargers defeated the Denver Broncos, 34-13, in a late-afternoon game at SoFi Stadium.
The Dolphins still could end up tying for the seventh spot in the final AFC standings but they will come out on the wrong end of any multitude of playoff tiebreakers, particularly because the Chargers' victory put them at 9-7 on the season and they will face the 9-7 Raiders next weekend in Las Vegas.
As Week 17 began, the Dolphins actually didn't need any outside help to make the playoffs and even found themselves with a path to the playoffs with a loss in either of their final two games.
But what the Dolphins couldn't have was the combination of a loss, a New England victory at home against Jacksonville, and victories by the Raiders and Chargers.
The only one of those games that was remotely close was the Las Vegas game at Indianapolis, which the Raiders won 23-20 on a last-second field goal by Daniel Carlson.
Five teams already have clinched playoff spots in the AFC: Tennessee, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Buffalo and New England, and the Colts are likely to get in considering they face the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, fresh off a 50-10 loss, in Week 18.
That would leave the final AFC playoff spot to the winner of the Chargers-Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.
Back to the Dolphins, this will become the fifth consecutive year they will miss the playoffs, the 11th time in 12 years, 18th time in 20 years.
Brian Flores will join George Wilson and Joe Philbin as the only Dolphins head coach to fail to make the playoffs in their first three seasons.