It’s here, the season is half-way over and it’s time to start playing all the possible scenarios for the Miami Dolphins to make the playoffs. That’s right, I can’t believe I said it either. Playoffs? You wanna talk about playoffs? Playoffs? Following yet another loss against a top AFC team, it’s hard to put playoffs and Miami in the same sentence, but it’s still a little too early to speculate who Miami will be taking in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, or who our new offensive coordinator will be.
Before the season began, I took a look at the schedule for the Miami Dolphins and thought if there was anyway Miami could finish the first half of the season at 4-4, there was a good chance they could make the playoffs, I really did. Their first half schedule was tough, combine that with the slow starts Miami has had the past few years and if Miami could find a way to be .500 we fans should be happy.
Well Miami is 4-4, but I’m really having a tough time to find things to be happy about with their record thus far. True, their 4 loses have come against the top 4 teams in the AFC, but after this past game against the Baltimore Ravens, it’s evident that Miami just isn’t able to compete for a full 60 minutes with the elite teams in the AFC. 15 minutes? Yes. 30 minutes? Definitely. 45 minutes? Sometimes. But a full 60 minutes……not so much. Unless this team can find a way to put it all together and play up to both expectations and potential, even if Miami does make the playoffs they will likely not make it past the wildcard round.
So let’s take a look at what it will take for Miami to even make it to that point. Their remaining schedule was full of winnable games when the season started. This week they host Tennessee. They are another one of those teams that could find themselves in the playoffs at the end of the year. This game is a must win for the Dolphins, if they lose this game, they can pretty much pack it in. They follow this game with a home Thursday Night game against the Bears. This one should be a win. Then Miami has a tough road contest against the Oakland Raiders. This one seems winnable as well, but the Raiders are rolling right now and at this point in time this one could go either way. After the trip to Oakland, Miami plays host to a Cleveland team that has been nothing short of a giant killer, notching wins against the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots this year. Then it’s on the road to New York to face the much hated Jets. No matter what the records are by the time this game comes up, either team can win. Then it’s home against Buffalo, and home against Detroit. Buffalo is still winless, and Detroit has played tough each week despite their 2-6 record. The season finale is on the road against New England, who may be resting their starters by that game. Miami would have to win 6 of 8 to even begin to have a chance at making a wildcard push this season. It could happen, I can see them doing that based on their schedule.
If that does happen, Miami is still going to need some help to get in. The odd thing about where Miami sits right now is this. The four teams Miami has lost to is the exact 4 teams they are chasing to reach the playoffs, and they are 2 games behind each of them as they all sit with identical 6-2 records. The good thing is, they will get help along the way. The remaining schedules for each of these teams is tougher than the one Miami faces, and each of these teams will be beating up eachother along the way.
Baltimore’s tough remaining games are at Atlanta this Thursday, then a home game in week 12 against a scrappy Tampa Bay team. They follow that by hosting Pittsburgh in week 13. In week 14 they will be on the road against Houston on Monday Night, not necessarily an easy win, especially in that stadium and the possibility of Houston wearing their all red uni’s (my second favorite uniform to Miami’s orange of course). They follow that up with a home game against the Saints in week 15. Mixed in are division games against Cleveland and Cincinnati in which anything can happen, and a road game against Carolina. Cleveland can hang and Cincinnati swept the division last year, I know that means nothing this year but they won’t be an easy win. It’s possible Baltimore will lose at least 3 of these games and possibly 4.
Pittsburgh doesn’t have an easy road to hoe either. They start their second half by hosting New England this week. Either way, this game helps Miami. Then they host Oakland, followed by a road game against Buffalo. In week 13 they travel to Baltimore, followed by 3 consecutive home games against Cincinnati, the Jets, and Carolina. They finish their season on the road against Cleveland. Pittsburgh could lose 2 of these games, 3 may be pushing it. This team could help Miami the most if they can pull off wins against New England, New York, and Baltimore.
New England goes on the road against Pittsburgh, then hosts Indianapolis. In week 12 they travel to Detroit on Thanksgiving. After that they host the Jets on Monday Night Football. How they go from playing on a Thursday to Monday is puzzling, that’s an awful long time off, almost another bye week! On the road against Chicago in week 14 followed by a home game against the Packers (who look a lot better than they did against Miami…….but they did play Dallas!). Their final 2 games are at Buffalo and at home against Miami. There is 3 loses in that bunch.
The Jets play at Cleveland this week. Then they host Houston in week 11 and play host to Cincinnati on Thanksgiving. They follow that up with the Monday Night game against New England. Remember how I couldn’t figure out why New England got that many days off after the Thanksgiving Day game? Well those two teams play each other so may the most rested team lose. They host Miami the following week, then go on the road to Pittsburgh. They finish the year at Chicago then at home against Buffalo. Once again, an easy argument can be made that there are 3 loses remaining in this schedule as well.
If each of these teams loses 3 of their remaining games, Miami will have to win all 8 to make it into the playoffs because if they tie, Miami will lose all the tiebreakers because they have lost to each of these teams. This seems like a stretch, but it could happen. Remember back long ago in 2008 when Miami won the AFC East? They had the exact same 4-4 record at this point in the season. They went on to win 7-8 and won the AFC East. Interestingly enough, Miami started rolling after they lost badly to the Baltimore Ravens. It’s tough to be optimistic about Miami after their performance this past week, but I just want to hold on to this last gasp of hope remaining for Miami in 2010. If Miami can get their first home win this weekend against the Tennessee Titans, anything can happen. Does it seem like a lot to hope for? Sure it does. Does it seem like I’m dreaming and living in a world outside of reality? Probably so. Am I being a true fan and hoping for only great things and thinking the Miami Dolphins will find a way to rally and make the playoffs…….Definitely!
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