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The Good

The defense was dominant, holding the Patriots to 12 points, 2 of 9 on third downs, 303 total yards, sacking Cam Newton 3 times and forcing 3 fumbles (1 recovered). The Patriots only held the ball for 22:34, which is a far cry from the first match-up.

The Dolphins running game surprisingly showed up big time. 240 yards on 42 carries. Both Salvon Admeh (122 yards) and Matt Breida (86 yards) showed up. The Dolphins averaged 6 ypc on the ground. The offensive line wore down the Patriots front 7 and the Dolphins were able to dominate time of possession by holding the ball for 37:26.

The Bad

Injuries have completely decimated this team, especially in the passing game. With Parker and Gesicki out, the Dolphins were unable to attack downfield. Tua Tagovailoa only threw for 145 yards. The leading receiver was Durham Smythe with 5 catches for 40 yards. The Dolphins had to go run-heavy and throw short passes all day to win. Ultimately, the gameplan worked, but it was very hard to watch.

The Ugly

Another tale of two Tua's, but this time it wasn't by halves, but rather by type of player. Tua the passer had a terrible game, throwing for 145 yards and one interception. But Tua the foot player did what was needed to win, running for two touchdowns and making plays in the second half when it was needed most. It wasn't pretty on the stat sheet, but he did what was needed to win.

Overall

The Dolphins have guaranteed themselves their first winning season since 2016. Will it lead to their first playoff berth since 2016 as well? It is looking increasingly difficult for the Dolphins to get in. Even though they are 9-5 and own the last wildcard spot, the Ravens have two cupcake games against the Giants and Bengals (combined 7-19-1), while the Dolphins have to finish against the Raiders and Bills (combined 18-10). If the Dolphins can beat the Raiders, it may all come down to whether the Bills are resting their starters the last week of the season.

With only a few weeks left in the season, I figured now was as good a time as any to spend way too much time on the NFL Playoff Machine. Though little time remains, there are still some unlikely, yet nonetheless fascinating finishes that could happen. Below is a little bit of what I determined, as well as some comments and opinions.


At the conclusion of week 14:

Miami currently has control over its own destiny. If the team goes 3-0 (finishing 11-5), based on the current tiebreaker scenarios, they are in - whether it be via the wildcard or because Buffalo choked. The 10-win-and-in train took a pretty major blow this week, but one loss didn't necessarily ruin all hopes. Should Miami fail to win out, it will become up to other teams to lose.

The division:

Is definitely still in play. Buffalo still has to win games, and there are still possible scenarios where they don't even make the playoffs. There are also scenarios where they become the 2 seed in the entire AFC. That being said, for Miami to win the division, it's a no brainer: Buffalo would need to lose all 3 and Miami win all 3. Even if the Phins win week 17, Buffalo still has the tiebreaker should the records be the same.

The wildcard:

As of now, Miami is the 7 seed, followed by the Colts (6) and the Browns (5). These are the teams in the mix for the wildcards (in no specific order):


Colts (9-4): Texans, @Steelers, Jaguars - Miami has tiebreaker

OR

Titans (9-4): Lions, @Packers, Texans - Titans have tiebreaker


Browns (9-4): @Giants, @Jets, Steelers - Miami has tiebreaker


Ravens (8-5): Jaguars, Giants, @Bengals - (as of today) *Ravens have tiebreaker

*This one is a bit unique because if the Ravens lose to the Giants, they would still have the tiebreaker; but if they lose to either the Jaguars or Bengals, Miami would then have the tiebreaker.

New England (6-7) and Vegas (7-6) aren't eliminated based on the math, but since Miami has to play both, I figured I could update those teams as needed.


Two immediate concerns are that no teams ahead of Miami have to play each other, and 50% of the games include the Jaguars, Texans, Bengals, and Jets. Not exactly relieving to see. Miami should be rooting for Tennessee to win the AFC South, and for either the Colts and Browns (or both) to finish with 10 wins. If either team does, Miami can realistically get in with a 10-6 record.

Based on the Colts' schedule, I find it hard to imagine them finishing with less than 11 wins. But I've seen crazier - can't forget the lone Jaguars win this year (week 1) came against the Colts, which funny enough is having a pretty big impact on this playoff race.


All in all, if Miami doesn't go 3-0, it may very well come down to how badly the Giants want to win a division or how badly the Steelers want a better seed in the playoffs. But Miami is going to win out and make this all moot anyways, right?


If you noticed something I didn't, or have any thoughts/concerns, feel free to comment. Should be a wild finish to an already chaotic season. Hoping for the best.

Phins up.

Phinfever, Miami Dolphins, Blog, Rich RodriguezThe Good

Even though the Chiefs scored 33 points (24 were allowed by the defense), you have to give your hats off to the defense and the way they play. Mahomes threw 3 interceptions and was sacked 3 times. Jerome Baker stood out with 2.5 sacks. Xavien Howard continues his ridiculous streak, leading the league in interceptions. This defense played more than well enough to win.

Mike Gesicki was balling before injuring his shoulder. He had 2 TDs and 65 yards. Lynn Bowden Jr showed up nicely with 7 catches for 82 yards. Mack Hollins also had a nice game with 66 yards. It is nice to see some of these back-up players pick up the slack.

The Bad

The running game went back to it's putrid, unproductive ways. Granted we are down two running backs. DeAndre Washington showed very little of anything. Maybe we need to see more Patrick Laird as he actually produces when he is in the game. The Dolphins run a lot of playaction and other action that depends on a strong running game in opening up the second level of the defense. Since no one respects our running game, you often see nothing happening out of playaction. Receivers are well covered. Linebackers are dropping back far enough to take away the middle of the field. The lack of a running game has a massive domino effect on this entire offense.

The Ugly

It was a tail of two halves again with Tua. He was not very effective in the 1st half but took over the game in the second half. The hurry-up offense is a strength for him. The less he has to think and the more he plays on instinct, the better he performs.

Overall

The Dolphins had a solid showing against a clearly superior football team. We all expected a loss and at one point, it was looking like a blowout. The Dolphins did enough in the 2nd half to keep it interesting and the performance by the defense against an elite offense was inspiring. The performance by the team overall given the significant injuries to this team showed that the culture and mentality in Miami have changed. The Dolphins are still in good position for a playoff spot, but more importantly, they are in very good position to continue rebuilding this team the coming offseason.

Next up are the Patriots. The Dolphins team they will be facing is significantly different from the one they beat earlier in the season.

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