Dolphins have shown they can bounce back in 2023

Dec 3, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) talks with
Dec 3, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) talks with / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It will be the final contest of the 2023 NFL regular season. Game No. 272 will feature a battle for the AFC East title as the 11-5 Miami Dolphins host the 10-6 Buffalo Bills. Mike McDaniel’s club is coming off a shocking 56-19 loss at Baltimore. The Bills are riding a four-game winning streak, their longest stretch of success this season.

There’s a lot that points to the Bills prevailing in this contest. Back in Week 4 at Orchard Park, Sean McDermott’s team handed the Dolphins their first loss of the season, 48-20. That victory, along with a 2022 playoff win at Buffalo, means the Bills are 10-2 in their last 12 battles in the divisional series.

Miami rebounded from that lopsided loss with a convincing 31-16 victory over the visiting Giants. It was the first of four instances in which the club followed up a setback with a triumph.

A few weeks later, the Dolphins fell in prime time at Philadelphia. Then came a 31-17 victory over the visiting Patriots. Seven days later, McDaniel’s club fell short against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs, 21-14, at Frankfurt. When the club returned to action two weeks later, they ripped off three straight victories (Raiders, Jets and Commanders) by a combined score 99-41.

There was the stunning Monday night home loss to the Titans, 28-27, in Week 14. However, Miami shut out the Jets, 30-0, and rallied to beat the Cowboys, 22-20.

Why the recap of the season? It’s a reminder of what a rollercoaster campaign the 2022 season was. Of course, much of those issues during the 9-8 showing has to do with numerous changes. Nonetheless, the ’22 Dolphins opened 3-0, lost their next three games, went on a five-game winning streak, dropped five in a row and then defeated the Jets, 11-6, to grab a wild card berth.

Of course, all of those aforementioned losses this season pale in comparison to a 37-point thrashing at the hands (or claws) of the Ravens last Sunday at Baltimore. What can be expected of these current Dolphins, who are playoff-bound but in danger of letting the AFC East title slip away? Vic Fangio’s defense must come up with a big effort against Josh Allen.