The Miami Dolphins haven't had much luck in the media. Early in the season, they were the offense that couldn't be beaten, until they were. Then they were just "frauds."
Miami skated through the NFL on their way to 11 wins. The losses to the Bills, Eagles, and Chiefs, all on the road, were simply Miami's inability to beat good football teams.
Last week, the Dolphins beat the Dallas Cowboys, a team holding a thin NFC East lead. A team with 11 wins, and a team that struggled all year on the road. A team that got blown away by the Bills a week later. A team that suddenly, after losing to Miami, were frauds themselves.
The narrative that the Dolphins couldn't beat great teams continued. The talk after last week was far more about the Cowboys than the Dolphins. Today, Miami can change it for good...or at least another week.
No one in the media outside of Miami wants the Dolphins on a bye week for the post-season. Hard Knocks would be boring with a week off. I would guess that local media, at least some, would rather have Miami play week one of the playoffs as well. Something to write about and for some, criticize.
Miami isn't playing for respect today. They threw that out the window. They are playing for themselves. They are playing to win, to get a bye week, to get a better seed in the playoffs. They are playing today to win their division.
Miami will play today's game without Raheem Mostert, their leading rusher. He is dealing with ankle and knee issues. They may be without Jevon Holland who will be a game-time decision, as will Robert Hunt. They will play today without Jaylen Waddle and could be missing Xavien Howard as well.
It isn't ideal but the Dolphins are the Dolphins and if they want everything they began the season hoping to achieve, they need to find a way to beat the Ravens. They need to find a way to put the NFL on notice that they don't care about the national narrative any more than they care about the naysing fans. The Dolphins are not playing to thump their chest, they are playing to win a football game.
Miami can't afford to relax today. They have to play tough, physical football and they need to do so for 60 minutes. Every play, every drive. No pre-snap penalties and no stupid mental errors like taking off their helmets on the field in frustration.
If the Dolphins truly want this, they will find a way to win. Baltimore is well-coached and disciplined. They too are playing for a division title and unlike Miami, will lock up the top seed with a win. It's a fistfight today in Baltimore.
After all that, Miami has to find a way to also have fun. The Dolphins are at their very best when they are laughing and having a good time. They start feeding off each other.
Today may not be a statement game for the Dolphins players. But for the rest of us, it is an opportunity to see who they really are. A close loss would be horrible but it would be much better than a blowout loss. A victory would answer so many questions or at least put them to rest.
This Dolphins team is capable of going toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. They don't believe that they know that. Let's home today, they do that...and win.