It’s November which means it’s time to start talking Miami Dolphins playoffs. Yes, I said playoffs. Believe it or not, the Dolphins are in very good position right now to make a run. Of course that all depends on whether or not they can play to the level needed to win the games they need to win to make a legit run.
The Dolphins face the toughest part of their schedule in the coming weeks. Hell it’s a tough schedule from now until the end of the season. Dan Campbell is preaching physicality and culture change and for two weeks we saw what the Dolphins could do and one week we saw what they couldn’t do. New England was a mess for the Dolphins and you can make excuses for the short week and rookie head coach but the reality is the Dolphins got lucky that the loss didn’t put a big hurt on their post-season chances. It did show that Miami is a long way from being a major competitor.
Miami enters this week sitting in the 9th position and that will not change after tonight’s game between Carolina and Indianapolis. The Dolphins must gain three spots to get into the sixth seed and there is a myriad of tie-breaking procedures to go through to secure that spot. Miami may not need tie-breakers if the pieces fall just right and the Dolphins can win. It’s a very thin margin of error for the team but one thing stands to define the post-season hopes than any other. Winning.
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Three teams are still undefeated in the AFC. New England, Denver, and Cincinnati and all three are running away with their divisions. The Colts hold a one game lead over the 3-5 Houston Texans for the AFC South division. One team will win it the other will be out of the playoffs.
Following the four division leaders Miami sits behind the Oakland Raiders who are playing very good football lately. They are however 4-3 one game ahead of the Dolphins. The Jets are 4-3 and the Steelers are 4-4 after Sunday’s loss to the Bengals. This weeks Dolphins opponent, the Bills, hold the eighth spot one game ahead of Miami based on head to head but here is the rub, the Bills have the same record as Miami which means a win this week takes away that Bills advantage.
Miami will face the Bills and Eagles on the road the next two weeks before returning home to face the Dallas Cowboys. They will then travel to New York for the Jets and then finish with four home games and one road trip to wrap the season. It’s not an easy schedule. Miami will face the Ravens, Giants, Colts, and Patriots at home and travel to San Diego.
It’s an ominous schedule to say the least but consider this. If the Dolphins beat Buffalo and they should and can steal one away from the Eagles in Philadelphia Miami will return home one game above .500 and right in the thick of the playoff chase as we head into late November and December.
Miami undoubtedly has to win at minimum seven of their remaining nine games but it’s more realistic to think that they will need to finish the remaining season 8-1. The Dolphins won’t face anyone as powerful as the Patriots, at least on paper. They are far better matched with the remaining teams outside of New England but could face a New England team in the final weekend of the regular season that has everything they need already wrapped neatly in a bow. New England could simply be playing for a perfect regular season record.
With the way the Dolphins have played this year it’s hard to talk about playoffs without a smirk and honestly the corner of my mouth is slightly turned as I write this but the Dolphins have also shown they can play tough and put points on the board.
Of their final nine opponents only New England possesses both the defense and the offense to put the Dolphins in a bad position. The Jets have struggled, the Bills are struggling, the Ravens are not the same team they were last year, the Colts are disappointing, as are the Chargers. That leaves the Eagles who are inconsistent and the Cowboys who look to be the toughest team not named the Patriots left on the schedule.
If and yes it’s a big IF, the Dolphins can beat both the Eagles and Cowboys along with the Bills, they will have at least a shot at challenging for the post-season. Each week has become critical for the Dolphins but if Dan Campbell is getting his players to buy into what he is selling, there is a chance. A small chance but as much of a chance as the Bills, Raiders, Jets, and Steelers who all sit above them in the standings.
In other words, there is hope and possibility and that’s more than we could have asked for four weeks ago.