The Miami Dolphins didn’t play a good game today. In fact, it wasn’t a good game at all. They did enough to keep the game close but that was about the extent of their highlight reel. When it mattered the most they didn’t take the next step. On the surface it would appear that the Dolphins played their way out of the playoffs but once again they are finding themselves the recipients of the NFL’s playoff generosity.
No the Dolphins are not in the sixth seed anymore. They gave that up and dropped to 10th which has been a familiar spot for them in the 2nd half of the season. Barring a total meltdown by the Patriots over the next four weeks (New England plays tonight) the Dolphins have no shot at the division even with a win next Sunday in Foxboro. That being said the window hasn’t closed on the Dolphins season just yet but if they continue to play like they did today and last week in New York, it won’t really matter.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens each made big jumps into the 6th and 7th sposts the rest of the AFC hopefuls fell along with the Dolphins. In Arizona the Chiefs dropped to 7-6 and in Cleveland the Browns who played with a lead for most of the game lost to the Colts in the waning moments. Denver helped the Dolphins by knocking off a Buffalo Bills team who stopped Peyton Manning’s consecutive games with a touchdown streak. The Jacksonville Jaguars gave it a good try before falling to the Houston Texans who are now also tied at 7-6.
For all of these teams the window for error is one game. Each of these teams must win out to have a chance at the playoffs and will still need help from others in the form of losses by Pittsburgh and Baltimore. While it’s hard to root for the New England Patriots it almost works better for the Dolphins if the Patriots win tonight as San Diego would fall back into ties with the 8-5 teams staying one game ahead of the Dolphins instead of two. A Charger win tonight puts the Dolphins two games back of the 5th seed with three to play.
Pittsburgh still faces Atlanta, Kansas City, and Cincinnati who they beat today. The game against K.C. could have a huge effect on the Dolphins chances for a playoff spot. Kansas City has games against Oakland, Pittsburgh, and San Diego another team looking to make it into the post-season while San Diego will play the Broncos, 49’ers, and Chiefs. Baltimore has a relatively easy schedule after today’s game facing the Jaguars, Texans, and Browns. While both the Texans and Browns are still in the hunt for the playoffs it will be a difficult road. The win by Baltimore today has set the Ravens up for a very good shot at the playoffs.
While hope isn’t entirely lost, confidence in the team will take a huge hit this week.