Last weekend, the Miami Dolphins clinched a playoff spot. It's not a division title or a first-round bye, it's at minimum, a Wild Card position.
Now we will get to see if this Dolphins team is different. We will see how they are made and what they want. The next two weeks are going to tell if the Dolphins are ready to be an elite football team that can win in the postseason before they actually get to the postseason.
The Ravens are the best team in football right now. Their record shows that and they dismantled the 49ers last week. They are, of course, beatable. The Ravens are not perfect. They have lost to the Colts, Steelers, and Browns this year. They haven't lost a game since November 12th, a five-game streak.
The Ravens are playing to lock up the number-one seed in the AFC. The Dolphins are trying to lock up the AFC East and move into the first seed in the conference. The Ravens are favored to win, and they should be.
Miami's victory over the Cowboys was a big one for the team but it didn't silence the national narrative against them. One media blowhard spoke out directly against the team and their fans but we won't give him any press here beyond that.
Miami has the Ravens this week and the streaking Bills next week. Imagine going all season holding the top spot in the AFC East and then losing it in week 18. That is what the Dolphins are looking at if they lose to the Ravens. A possibility to end the season in a share of first place but lose on tie-breakers.
Mike McDaniel stressed that the team must forget about playoff seeding and scenarios, something they didn't do heading into the game against the Titans. Imagine how the shape of the conference might look had they not fallen asleep in the last 3 minutes. The AFC East would have already been won.
Nothing comes easy for the Dolphins and it hasn't in a very long time. Fans can tell you all about it so when some fans are less optimistic than others, they have been trained to be that way.
For the Dolphins, it is literally all about want. Miami has the most talented team they have since the early 2000s which ironically is the last time they won a playoff game. A win against the Ravens changes that narrative not only for outsiders but it will go a long way to convince the players themselves that they are more than just talent on paper.
This team believes they have a job left unfinished. Unsatisfied with simply making the playoffs. That isn't the goal, Mike McDaniel has repeatedly told the media. If that is the case, they need to prove it to no one else but themselves.
Beating the Ravens will be a complete team effort and a complete team will be needed. Miami must remain diligent and disciplined and they must play their most physical game of the year. Win this weekend and no one is talking about "What if'" and suddenly the Dolphins could be looking at a road to the Super Bowl that is less road and more surf.