We are halfway through the season and despite Miami’s troubles thus far they find themselves still very much alive in the AFC playoff hunt. I am not saying this Miami Dolphins team is destined to make the playoffs. I must admit, after their 3-0 start I thought this team had a great chance to make the final six come late December. Then after their 4 game slide, I saw that great chance disappear into a slight chance. Now, after beating the AFC North leading Bengals, Miami sits at 4-4 and barely on the outside of the playoff picture looking in on (if the season ended today) the 6th seeded New York Jets. After Miami’s huge win on Thursday Night Football, they received a lot of help from other teams around the league.
For starters, the San Diego Chargers fell in OT to the Washington Redskins. This loss bumped the Chargers from sole possession of the 2nd Wildcard spot in the AFC and they are now currently 9th (one spot behind the Dolphins thanks to SD’s 2-3 conference record) in the AFC. Miami will host the Bolts in two weeks in a game with possible playoff implications.
Next, Miami received help from the Cleveland Browns, who knocked off the Baltimore Ravens in a close game 24-18. The Dolphins have already lost to the Ravens this year and need to finish with a better record than Baltimore since they lost the tiebreaker. The Ravens are 3-5 and currently sit 11th in the AFC.
Miami also gained a game on the Oakland Raiders (lost to the Eagles) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (lost to the Patriots) on Sunday. In my opinion these two teams are pretty much out of the playoff race, as the Steelers still have to play Lions, Packers and the Bengals once more and the Raiders still have games against Denver, Kansas City, San Diego and Dallas.
The only teams who did not help the Miami Dolphin playoff cause this weekend were the New Orleans Saints, who fell in an upset to the now 5-4 New York Jets. This win for the Jets does not hurt Miami has much though, as the Dolphins still control their own destiny with the Jets. The two teams have yet to play thus far. The Tennessee Titans beat the Rams and are currently one spot ahead of Miami with a 4-4 record.
While Miami is still very much technically alive in the AFC East race, I simply don’t see anyone slowing down Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Patriots are three games ahead of the Dolphins with one head to head win under their belts. With Kansas City (9-0) or Denver (7-1) destine to fill Wildcard spot, that leaves Miami fighting for the 6th and final spot in the AFC playoff race. While it will undoubtedly be a tough task (especially with the ups and downs this team has shown), Miami does have one positive on their side: strength of schedule. Miami is very much past the hardest part of their schedule and has a much more manageable schedule remaining compared to the other teams battling for the final playoff spot. In my opinion, I see the final playoff spot coming down to the two Dolphins Jets games.
What do you think? Do you think Miami will make the playoffs this year? Feel free to weigh in below, and as always,