A win this Sunday for the Dolphins makes them 8-8 for the season and does nothing else. A loss this Sunday for the Patriots however, could have big implications come playoffs.
Sunday’s game (flexed to 4:25 P.M. EST if anyone missed that) is a two faced game for Miami. Winning and finishing at 8-8 for the Dolphins is a fine accomplishment on its own. Most pundits had the Dolphins losing many more than 8 games this season and with a few less mistakes and maybe a little luck they could have been a 10+ win team this season.
Joe Philbin has not only saved Jeff Ireland from unemployment this year, but also gave a glimmer of hope for the future of the team. Ryan Tannehill’s last 137 pass attempts have gone without being intercepted which is a nice sign to close out the season. It has not been the most prolific rookie season we have ever seen, but has certainly been encouraging.
If the Dolphins can beat the Patriots this weekend then the playoffs could become a little murky for the Pats. playing at 4:25 gives the Patriots the added bonus of seeing how the early games are trending. Baltimore and Houston both play at 1pm. If the Texans lose and the Pats win then New England can clinch a first round bye. The Dolphins can prevent this and spoil things nicely with a big win in Foxboro.
We won’t know for sure what kind of game Bill Belichick decides to play until kickoff. We have seen both sides at the end of a season where either all of their starters play and play to win, or where the second stringers come in to manage the game. What we do know is the Dolphins are coming in to win. A win by the Ravens against the Bengals and a loss for the Pats would drop New England into the 4th seed.
Miami might be able to carry a little momentum into next season with a strong 3-0 finish to the season. At 8-8 the Dolphins will have missed the playoffs by only a game or two which may help a free agent or two decide in the off season if Miami is the right fit for them.
Let’s also remember that a loss to the Pats and finishing the season at 7-9 while not exciting is still encouraging. Every team has to start somewhere, and for a team with so many new faces including numerous new coaches 7-9 is not the end of the world. The off season will be intriguing to see what moves are made and who is resigned or decides to walk away, but first we watch to see if the Dolphins can upset the Patriots and send them into the playoffs on a low note.