Oct 7, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) calls a play during the second half in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Dolphins won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-US PRESSWIRE

Dolphins Win Over Bengals Could Have Playoff Implications

Playoffs?  Yes, let the sound of former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora ring in your head.  Playoffs?  Yet the Miami Dolphins can’t truly be discounted from anything that is related to the word.  Not now at least.

The Dolphins are only 2-3 and have yet to reach .500 since week 2 of the season when they beat the Oakland Raiders.  They stare up at the NY Jets both in their own division and in the conference standings.  Not to reopen old wounds but the Dolphins shouldn’t have lost to the Jets.  Or the Cardinals.  The fact that they did only further shows how much more work needs to be done before, you know, the team can look to the playoffs as a viable opportunity.

With the win on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Dolphins improved their record, improved their fourth quarter performance, stopped a two game overtime losing streak, and what could become more important, beat a team that could be challenging them for a “Wild Card” spot late in December.  Welcome to the Miami Dolphins 2012 NFL season.

Oh, and welcome to real talk about, playoffs.

There is reality and then there is the perception of reality.  Both are on opposite sides of a long fence and somewhere in the middle is “homerism”.  Homerism, which really isn’t a word, consists of fans that will believe only the good can happen simply because it’s their favorite team.  On the bookends are those who believe that the Dolphins or   any team will fail because they are not good enough (perception of reality) and the other bookend are those who look at statistics and say, “mathematically possible” (reality).  Neither are wrong and neither are 100% right.

The Dolphins, today, are not a playoff caliber football team but they are not a non-playoff caliber football team either.  They consistently are getting better on both sides of the ball and if that continues each week and coincides with victories each week, then guess what?  They have a legit shot to challenge the other AFC teams for a playoff spot.  It’s a long road with two games against division rivals Buffalo and New England as well as a San Francisco game thrown in for good measure.  But it also has another game against the Jets, and the Colts, Jaguars, Rams, and Titans as well.  In other words, there are enough games for the team to win and make it interesting and enough games to break your heart.

The Dolphins have been doing well though.  Despite the lack of offensive production in terms of touchdowns, the defense has managed to keep Larry Fitzgerald at bay, A.J. Green at bay, held Andre’ Johnson down most of his game as well.  While the team isn’t getting the sacks on opposing QB’s that it probably should, they are atop the NFL against the run.  On the other side of that ball they are in the top 10 rushing and currently own the league leading receiver in the league…who just so happens to not be named Brandon Marshall.

Simply put, the team is overachieving and overachievers usually do great things.  Why?  Because they don’t know they are supposed to lose.  They are not supposed to win certain games and confidence for a team that is not supposed to play well is a very dangerous thing.

Five weeks into the season, the Miami Dolphins are clawing away at their opponents and while they allowed 30 plus points to the Houston Texans on opening weekend, they have not allowed any more than 24 to opponents since.  Both of those 23 and 24 point games were their OT losses.  The high scoring Bengals who consistently posted point totals in the 30’s were kept to 13 as were the Oakland Raiders.

The team still has a lot of growing to do and perhaps they will start to slide when teams realize that they are not pushovers or a team to be looked over on the schedule.  Or maybe they are a team that consistently is consistently having their backs against the wall and coming out of that hole together, as a team.  What happens with this team moving forward will have as much to do with their success in future years as it will this year.

While most of us watch the media nit-pick about the little things from the details, the win loss record will change some opinions and formulate others.  This Dolphins team was said to be the worst in the NFL at the seasons start, five weeks in and they are a team that can’t be discounted.  Playoffs?  Playoffs?  Not yet, not quite, but not out of the question.

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