Today, the Miami Dolphins will play one of their final two home games, next week’s Lions game is home as well, before heading to frigid New England to wrap up a season that could have been so very different.
Late game interceptions, failing defense, special teams meltdown, bad call by the referees, etc… All of it could have easily changed the scope of this season and the meaning of these final three weeks if even one or two of them had gone Miami’s way.
Instead, we are left to the reality of the season and pondering the possibilities that are still open in front of us. So, here are todays match-ups that you need to be rooting for and against.
1: Obviously the Dolphins have to win. If they fail to beat the Bills at home, they will be eliminated from playoff contention. The Bills are not a pushover by any means and have steadily gotten better as the season has moved forward. Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be the long term answer for their team at QB, but he is looking more and more like a capable bridge to their future. A win would put the team at 8-6, the first time all season they will have been two games over .500. It could also put the team 1 game behind the WC leaders.
2: Pittsburgh: The Steelers play the NY Jets at 4:15 today and this is a game the Dolphins would love to see fall into the Steelers win column. For two reasons, one, it knocks the Jets closer to the pact of WC hopefuls and second puts the Steelers in position to secure the AFC North division over Baltimore.
3: Baltimore: The Ravens play host to the New Orleans Saints who are not as offensively powerful as they were last year. Still, they can put points on the board. A win by Pittsburgh and a loss by Baltimore means the Ravens only shot of getting to the post season is through the WC. Both the Ravens and the Jets would be 9-5 and one game up on Miami.
4: Jacksonville: You wan them to win. A win and they take the division and the Colts are down with the rest of the pack. If they lose then the Colts will be in position to take the AFC South and the Jaguars will be thrown into the WC mix where they would have a solid 7-4 conference record with the loss.
5: Indianapolis: They play the Jaguars today and if they lose, and Miami wins, then the Dolphins would have a one game lead on Indy for the WC chase. Root for Jacksonville in a big way as this could be a key game in deciding Miami’s chances.
6: Kansas City: The San Diego Chargers are charging and the Chiefs are sliding. Only a short month ago it appeared that the Chiefs were walk away favorites for the AFC West, not so fast. They are without starting QB Matt Cassell and have been beaten the last two weeks. This week they take on the Rams in St. Louis. A loss by the Chiefs would put the Chargers on top of the division and add the Chiefs into the hunt with Miami at 8-5. The Chargers have a better conference record than Miami, 6-4 while KC is tied with a 5-5 record. A tie with KC will give Miami a better shot than with the Chargers.
In summation: A lot needs to happen this week to keep the Dolphins in the hunt and while losses by the Colts, Chiefs, Ravens, and Jets will help greatly, the team can still find themselves not better than one game back of the WC leaders. Staying in the hunt to hope for another week. If the Dolphins lose however, it won’t make a damn bit of difference come Christmas.