As the Miami Dolphins head into the final 5 games of the 2010 season the playoffs are still within reach….a semi-long reach. Miami has to win at least 4 of their last 5 games to even have a chance. It’s not going to be easy, and I’ll be the first to admit that it does almost seem unlikely that will happen due to the up and down play the Dolphins have displayed up to this point in the season.
It’s been 2 weeks since the Miami Dolphins hit the low point in their season. The week 11 loss at home to the Chicago Bears was the worst loss the Dolphins have had this season. It was worse than the loss at home to the New York Jets on Sunday Night Football, it was worse than the loss at home to the New England Patriots the following Monday, it was even worse than the loss at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chicago Bears absolutely dominated the Dolphins 2 weeks ago, no question about it. Hopefully at the end of the year, we will be proud to say that loss is what turned the season around. That was the loss that got things going.
Moving forward, Miami still has to win 4 of 5, but the lone loss absolutely cannot happen this week against the Cleveland Browns, or next week against the New York Jets. Miami has to win those games from a confidence standpoint. If they don’t, there is always a chance that the players will lose faith. If Miami can take care of business this weekend and next, they will realize they still have a chance, and that chance will come from the B’s.
The 4 teams ahead of Miami right now all play each other this weekend. The Steelers play the Ravens, and the Jets play the Patriots. Unless the unlikely tie, 2 of those 4 teams will move to 3 loses, with a win Miami will stay at 5, two games back with 4 to play. Here’s where the B’s will come into play.
Over the final quarter of the 2010 NFL season, the 4 teams ahead of the Dolphins all have tough match-ups with teams that start with B’s, and they could lose a couple of them.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have games remaining against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. Both of those games should be won by the Steelers, but they are division games and anything can happen. The Bengals aren’t good this year, but they did sweep the division last year, and Cleveland has risen up to tougher competition this year with wins at New Orleans and at home against New England. Mixed in are games against the Jets and Panthers at home.
The Baltimore Ravens also face those two killer B’s. The final two weeks of the season they face Cleveland on the road then home for Cincinnati. The Ravens have owned Cleveland the past few years, but not so much with the Bengals, and they have dropped 3 straight to them. The 2 games they play before those aren’t easy wins either, with a Monday Night game in Houston next week followed up with a trip to the big easy to take on the Saints. I know Houston seems like an easy win, but that stadium on Monday Night is going to be a tough place to win.
The New York Jets and New England Patriots face a different pair of killer B’s, in the form of the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills. They also have the tougher finish to their seasons than the Ravens and Steelers. The Patriots travel to Chicago next week. Then they host the Green Bay Packers. Chicago’s defense is legit and could pose problems if they can get pressure on Tom Brady. Green Bay was a facemask away from taking the Atlanta Falcons to overtime where anything could have happened. Both of those teams are proving to be contenders in the NFC. Their final two games are at Buffalo then at home against Miami. Buffalo is playing as tough as any team in the NFL right now and hung with New England during their first battle earlier this year. New England has struggled more against Miami over the past 5 years than they have against any other team in the division.
The toughest remaining schedule for the teams Miami is chasing belongs to the New York Jets. After they play New England, they host Miami. Miami has won 3 of the last 4 in this series, and will surely be up for this game. After that the Jets travel to Pittsburgh, then Chicago. Both of those games are going to be tough to win, especially on the road. They finish their year by hosting the Bills, not an easy win to say the least.
Miami can’t control what happens with those other games, but they can control what they have to do with their own games. If they can remained focused and play like the team we saw in Oakland, I like their chances. They need to continue to be aggressive on both offense and defense. It seemed like either the handcuffs were taken off Chad Henne last week, or he finally took more chances. Either way it worked! If the Chad Henne that plays with nothing to lose like he did against the Titans and Raiders shows up for the rest of the season, I like Miami’s chances.
Topics: Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chad Henne, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers