After perusing the message boards on Monday I found myself with a halfhearted smile when I read topics like “The Dolphins can get to the playoffs” or “We are not out of this yet”. I mean, bless their souls, and in the words of Tim Allen‘s turn in Galaxy Quest, “Never give up! Never Surrender!”. Good for them staying so positive I thought. Delusional maybe, but positive nonetheless.
So imagine my surprise this morning when I read that the players are talking a tough, “We can still make it”, mantra. Simply not content to finish the final 7 weeks as spoilers, some think it’s entirely possible. So with yet another halfhearted smile I say, “good for you, way to not give up”. Delusional? Maybe, but seriously? I know, I know, what are they supposed to say right? “We blew this season and now have nothing to play for”? Of course not. This team still needs to win and winning will provide it with a change in attitude. It will instill confidence and nothing comes close to the feeling of winning.
What would it say for this team if they did in fact win out? Would fans pat them on the back and say, “you gave that good old college try” or would they smack a little harder and say “Thanks for pissing the first seven weeks away”. I realize that this really does sound condenscending. I’m all for winning and I hope this team continues to show that fight. I’m just not drinking the Kool-aid just yet. In fact, I not even on that PO bandwagon or waiting in line for it. I’m a realist. I applaud the conviction to the “nth” degree for both the fans and the players who are boarding or sitting on that wagon. I’ll wave wildly as it rides by.
The problem for me is two fold. One, the schedule ahead. Not for the Miami Dolphins but for the rest of the AFC teams. Secondly, the play in the last two weeks by the Miami Dolphins. Convincing? Yes and no.
Let’s start with number two. Arrowhead stadium is one of the toughest arenas to play in and the Dolphins were supposed to get trounced. Instead, the Chiefs never made it into the endzone and the game was over before half-time. A brilliant game plan by the coaches and brilliant execution by the players. The Chiefs however are not one of the best teams in the NFL and a short four weeks ago they were thinking they had a shot at Andrew Luck.
Last week the Chiefs lost again, this time to the Tim Tebow led Broncos. Yes the same team that beat Miami on Gator appreciation day. In hindsight, KC wasn’t as good as they were made out to be.
Last week the Dolphins beat the Washington Redskins. Have you seen the Redskins play? They are every bit as horrible as the Indy Colts and sliding fast. Rex Grossman is only slightly better than John Beck, evidenced by the waffling choices of HC Mike Shanahan. The Redskins are playing poor defensive football and are almost non-existent offensively and the Dolphins, through three quarters of play only led by a four points.
Now we get the Bills. They can be bad, they can be good, it simply doesn’t matter. These two teams play each other hard. That’s all we really need to take out of the pre-game talk.
The second thing, or rather the first as I wrote it, is the upcoming schedule. Looking at the standings as they are now, the top six teams are 6-3 or better with the Titans, Bills, and Jets one game off the pace with 5 wins. There are three teams beyond that with four wins. In other words, mathematically, the team has a shot as they are only off the pace of the sixth seed by 4 games.
Now the dull realistic part. Of the playoff teams, the Dolphins have beaten none. They still face NE a second time and they face the Raiders who lead the West. So in reality, they don’t control their fate against the Raiders, the Raiders control their fate in their division. The Dolphins have however lost to the conference leading Texans who are 7 wins. The best chance for Miami doesn’t come atop the division. It comes from making the wildcard round.
With losses to the Jets, Broncos, and Chargers they need help. Help as in those teams need to lose not one or two but three games for the Dolphins to jump ahead. The Dolphins need the Jets to lose three games of which they control one. The season isn’t over by a long shot and several teams ahead of Miami still have games on their schedule against other teams that are ahead of Miami so there are push and shove games left. Meaning either way one team who Miami needs to lose will win.
So while it’s exciting to see fans and especially the players holding out hope, it’s too early and maybe even a bit too late to start making travel plans for January. I know, i’m a killjoy but when your in box is filled with Emails asking what needs to happen for the Dolphins to make it into the post-season, the easiest answer is writing it all down and taking the fall out from coming across so negative. What needs to happen for Miami to make the playoffs? A lot of miracles and then some luck.