The Miami Dolphins are in control of their own destiny. If the team wins its remaining four games on the regular season schedule, it is in the playoffs with an 11-5 record. If not, the Dolphins lose control of the wheel and must depend on a number of things to happen to go to the postseason.
In either case, it is the fans’ job to have faith in their team, on the one hand, and hope the others fall flat on their collective faces, on the other. With that in mind, here is a look at this weekend’s games:
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
The Dolphins are the stronger team on offense, the Bills on defense. However, the Bills’ passing game could give the Dolphins’ secondary fits. So, look for this match-up to help to define the game early.
Every game is a must-win for the Dolphins at this point. It hardly matters that the Bills are still a Wild Card contender and could, in theory, get in the way of the Dolphins’ entry into the postseason.
Root for Miami.
Washington Redskins @ Baltimore Ravens
Both of these teams are in tough races for the playoffs. The Giants have almost wrapped up the Redskins’ NFC East, so they are competing against the Cowboys and a tough NFC South for one of the Wild Card spots. Expect a low scoring game as the Ravens’ #2 defense looks to stop one of the best rushing offenses lead by Redskins runningback Clinton Portis, who is nursing an injury. If Portis is not ready to go, Shaun Alexander, formerly of the Seahawks, will be an interesting substitution to watch.
The Ravens are likely one of three teams a 10-6 Dolphins team would be battling with for a Wild Card Spot. They are the least likely of those three teams to bring an end to the Dolphins’ season, but every last game counts.
Either way, this will be a great game to watch.
Root for Washington.
Dallas Cowboys @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This could be a preview to the Super Bowl. The Cowboys are better than their record at 8-4, and come in as a top 10 team on both offense and defense. If they have a weakness, it is in a banged-up backfield with Marion Barber slated to start. No matter what the injury situation, the Cowboys will have their hands full against the Steelers, with the NFL’s best defense against both air and ground attacks.
Root for Dallas.
Could Be Interesting
New York Jets @ San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers surprised the Bills last week in a 10-3 upset in their only win so far against a quality team. This momentum will probably not be enough, though, to carry the team to a win in the face of the Jets’ balanced offensive attack. If the 49ers have anything going for them, it is with linebackers Takeo Spikes and Patrick Willis, a pair of turnover mavens with 189 tackles between them. And you can count on Favre, tied for #1 in the NFL for interceptions thrown, to keep the game interesting in that respect.
Root for San Francisco.
New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks
This is only interesting because it is played in Seattle, and will be one of Coach Holmgren’s last home games.
The Dolphins really need New England to drop another one in case the Dolphins do not win-out.
Root for Seattle.
Hope for the Best
Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans
The Titans, with one of the most potent rushing attacks in the league, should run over a weak Browns defense. This should be a game of clock-management, with the Titans pounding the ball on the ground and not allowing the Browns’ third-stringer, Ken Dorsey, to complete many passes.
This game is not a big deal, as the Titans have pretty-much guaranteed themselves a division title.
Root for Cleveland.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts
You can go ahead and chisel a, “W” in stone for the Colts, as the Bengals have little chance of stopping the older Manning’s passing attack. The Colts are on a roll and still need wins to secure a Wild Card berth.
Look elsewhere for the Colts to lose a game if they are to help the Dolphins into the playoffs.
Root for Cincinnati.