If you don't hear it, you will probably be the one saying it, this Miami Dolphins team is made differently. Yes, they were also made differently last year too.
Miami is 6-3 at the halfway point of the season. In 2023, the Dolphins hit their bye in week 11. They entered that off week 7-3, rolling towards a possible AFC East division title. Miami fans will and still do quickly point to the three losses of 2023 with the asterisk, "Tua Tagovailoa wasn't playing."
Miami returned from the bye week with a win against the Texans and found themselves 9-3 with the season fully in their grasp. Yes, they hit the road for three consecutive games including two on the West Coast. They lost all three. 8-6. A return to Hard Rock, another concussion, 8-7. A loss to New England and a victory in the final week against the Jets. 9-8.
Yes, Tua Tagovailoa missed a lot of time last year and fans are often reminded that Tua's health is the most important factor to achieve success this year. The Dolphins are 6-3 with 8 to go.
The Dolphins need to avoid the losing skid that derailed their season last year. It is hard to imagine they could lose at home to the Raiders and Titans. It's hard to imagine them losing to the Commanders in Washington. 9-3.
Splitting with the Jets is normal for the Dolphins throughout their history but this year, that one loss could be enough to give the Bills a chance. 10-4? Maybe 11-3? Perhaps the worst case scenario, 9-5.
The last three games will not be easy, the Cowboys at home, the Ravens on the road, and the Bills rematch to wrap up the season. Miami has to take at least one if not two of those remaining three games. Those are the statement games of the season. Those are the three that prepare the Dolphins for the postseason.
These Dolphins are different. Everything about them seems different but until things turn out different, they will remain the same.
So what is the lesson? No matter how good you are playing, no matter what your record is, the final stretch of the season is what seeds you in the playoffs. Gets you to the playoffs, wins a division. The final weeks of the regular season set the pace, tone, and momentum for the postseason.
The Miami Dolphins have a good chance at making the playoffs this year but making it, as Mike McDaniel said way back in August, isn't the goal of this team.