Can The Miami Dolphins Win Five Of Seven?


The Miami Dolphins are 5-4 on the season and currently are the 11th team in the AFC. That means they have to move up five spots to make the playoffs. Between them and the sixth spot are the Steelers, Chargers, Bills, Ravens, and the Bengals who currently are holding the sixth seed.

With the halfway point of the season reached it’s not too early to talk about the playoffs. The Dolphins are in a thick hunt for the post-season. The Ravens and Steelers are one game up on the Dolphins with six wins and the Bengals are a half game up on the other two by virtue of having a tie and five wins. The good news is that the Ravens, Steelers, Bengals, and the surprising 4th seed Browns all will share games down the stretch.

While the Dolphins are currently tied at 5-4 with the Chargers and the Bills the Dolphins who own the head to head with the Chargers do not hold the head to head with the Bills. The Chargers maintain their conference standings over the Dolphins because NFL tie breaking procedures eliminate division ties first. So even though the Dolphins beat San Diego their loss to the Bills would allow the Chargers to advance before the Dolphins. That will change on Thursday night with a win.

With the playoffs becoming a topic of discussion it’s time to look at what is ahead for the Dolphins. Traditionally the bench mark for a playoff team is a 10-6 record and it appears that this year will be no different and might actually see a 10-6 team stay home after the season ends. If this stands to be true for 2014 the Miami Dolphins can only lose two more games.

Thursday is a huge game for the team both in the division and in the conference because as stated above a loss to the Bills would essentially eliminate any chance of Miami winning tie-breakers against other non-division teams if Buffalo holds the advantage over Miami and ends tied with the Dolphins. While the game isn’t a must win, it’s as close to it as possible and would put the Dolphins in a huge hole to finish out the season.

Following the Bills game and perhaps making it even more important is a date with the Denver Broncos in Denver. While the Detroit Lions game showed the Dolphins can play physically the Broncos have the third best QB in the league and the second best receiver statistically in the league, Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas. TE Julius Thomas is one of the top TE’s in the league. Needless to say the Dolphins 2nd ranked defense will have their hands full.

The Dolphins have no easy games left on their schedule. There are no Jacksonville Jaguars or Oakland Raiders left for Miami to entertain. While the Jets are on their schedule twice and have won only two games they are fierce opponents of the Dolphins and ended the Dolphins hopes last year of making the playoffs.

The good news is that the Dolphins hold certain keys to making the playoffs in their own hands. Obviously a win against Buffalo is paramount but they also have games against the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots. The Ravens are one of the team in front of the Dolphins and the Patriots game could decide who wins the division. The only game remaining that does not play a factor in the immediate playoff picture are the Vikings but the Dolphins can not afford to lose a game to a team that on paper they should be able to beat.

Looking ahead the Dolphins are walking on a thin sheet of ice that will begin to fracture with their next loss. A loss to the Bills puts the team in the roughest position and if you look at the remaining games, Baltimore and Buffalo are the two games the Dolphins really can not afford to lose to due to head to head tie and three or more team tie breakers. The Dolphins could swallow a loss to the Broncos and a loss to New England won’t necessarily take the team out of division contention if the Patriots end the season tied with Miami. That will depend on division records and conference records.

The Dolphins need to play up to their opponents and not down and that is where beating the Jets comes in. The Dolphins simply can not afford to lose to teams that they should be better than. Miami should be able to beat the Jets twice and the Vikings giving them eight wins on the season. That would leave the aforementioned games against New England, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Denver and put Miami in a position to split those four in half and still finish 10-6. Ideally they need to beat Buffalo and Baltimore to gain a Wild Card spot.

While the Patriots hold the division lead they still face tough opponents to finish out their season. The Bills and Jets will play them to finish out the seasons last two weeks but the Patriots will face the Colts, Lions, Packers, Chargers, and the Dolphins prior to those final two weeks. Three of their next four are all on the road. Only the Lions play in Foxboro until the Dolphins visit.

The Bills meanwhile face the Dolphins, Jets, Browns, Broncos, Packers, Raiders, and the Patriots in Foxboro to end the season.

The walls of the playoff picture are starting to close in and for the 2nd season in a row the Dolphins have a lot of control heading into the final stretch. The playoffs are not yet entirely in their hands but missing the playoffs surely are.