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Miami Dolphins

Here’s how Dolphins slim playoff hope can stay alive this weekend

Roy Cummings

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The late great Yogi Berra is still right all these many years later that it truly “ain’t over until it’s over.” And right now, for the Dolphins, it ain’t over.

At 6-8 their playoff hopes are on life support, but they are still alive headed into this weekend.

As you would expect, coach Adam Gase answered the way that a coach should, when asked about his team’s postseason chances Wednesday afternoon, “We’re still in this season….Win this one (in Kansas City) and go from there and see what happens.”

The question is: will winning that one game Sunday still matter?

So, buckle up get out your pencil with an eraser and here we go with what keeps the Dolphins alive for this week and gives them hope that next week they can get in on a tiebreaker at 8-8 for an AFC Wildard.

First, the Ravens did no favors for the Dolphins on Saturday, as they defeated the Colts 23-16. That win means the Ravens are 9-6 and control their own destiny to defeat the Bengals at home next week and clinch a Wildcard Spot. Obviously, the Dolphins will not be able to tie the Ravens, now.

So, onto Sunday, and Miami must help themselves by beating Kansas City early Sunday afternoon, because a ninth loss will eliminate them. The Chiefs also have to win this game, as they are trying to win the AFC West and make the playoffs. Also, by beating K.C., Miami would own a potential head to head tiebreaker over the Chiefs, if needed, for the Wildcard after next weekend.

The next two things that need to happen also on Sunday are: the Patriots winning their rematch with the Bills in New England and the Rams defeating Tennessee in Nashville.

Neither of those are too far-fetched. The Pats have to keep winning to be the #1 seed in the AFC and have home-field advantage. So their motives are high.

The Rams are coming to Tennessee, and they have to keep winning to not only win the West and guarantee a home playoff game, but they are battling with the Saints and the Vikings for the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs and a bye.

Those losses would make the Bills and the Titans 8-7 headed into the final weekend.

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Then, on Monday night the Eagles, who also need to keep winning for #1 seed status in the NFC playoffs host the Raiders. Miami, would still need at least more Oakland loss to help them headed into the final weekend of the season. The Raiders have the head to head win over Miami last month.

So the bottom line is the Dolphins need a victory in K.C., but also help in four other games.

Not dead, but in serious jeopardy.

Then again, the NFL is crazy with upsets, and as we have laid out above, if they take care of business against the Chiefs, everything else is realistic to fall into place for Gase and the Dolphins this weekend.

Now, you have to let it play out.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. B Wimmer

    December 21, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Miami doesn’t ‘have to’ have IND beat BAL to stay alive although that would be a huge boon for them. If the other more likely things happen (NE over BUF, LAR over TEN, PHI over OAK) then Miami would need to beat BUF and have JAX over TEN and -either- DEN over KC -or- OAK over LAC. To me, that’s the most realistic shot they have since it eliminates any upsets with the exception of Miami’s two games. My thinking is, if the Fins go about it like they control their own destiny (by winning out), the other things very well may fall into place. But they hafta get W’s first and foremost.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins beaten up every way possible after latest loss in Green Bay

Florida Football Insiders

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Make no mistake, the Dolphins season is not officially over at 5 – 5 headed in the bye week.

It just looks and feels that way.

Mostly, it does, because the Dolphins are banged up, not only physically, but also it appears emotionally and psychologically. So, much so, they don’t appear to have a whole lot left for the stretch run.

Let’s start with the actual physical injuries and that began Sunday with the inactives. The Fins starting offensive line was minus Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, which were not unexpected. However, after being able to practice some this week, former number 1 pick defensive end Charles Harris was not able to play against Green Bay today, either.

Then, as the game wore on, it was one Dolphin leaving after another. Whether it was Kenyan Drake with a shoulder injury in the first half or Bobby McCain with a concussion in the third quarter or when receivers Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker both had to leave on the same Drive, it was tough to watch the Dolphins walking wounded.

The biggest fear is for the smaller but explosive Grant, who may have torn his Achilles in the third quarter. Grant was already suffering from Achilles tendonitis and came up hobbling right away on a slant pass and could not put weight on the foot. He was then carted shortly thereafter to the Dolphins locker room.

Coach Adam Gase offered no real update on Grant’s status other than that it’s a wait-and-see. As for Parker, same thing is being hoped, even though, the media reported him walking around in the locker room after the game with his left arm in a sling. You combine those injuries with Kenny Stills being slowed by a groin injury and Albert Wilson already out for the year having hurt his hip a few weeks ago, and the Dolphins may be looking for Mark Duper or Nat Moore to come out of retirement at this point.

Bigger than just the physical injuries, the Dolphins appear spent in the figurative sense as well. The frustration mounted as Aaron Rodgers continued to carve them up throwing darts all over the football field Sunday night in the Lambeau cold. He finished with only 195 yards passing, but did have two TDs. And, they marched on the Dolphins defense, whenever he wanted.

It was almost as if Miami was just helpless to do anything against him, and they are watching their season wind down.

Consider that backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was not able to spark the team for the third consecutive game. So poor is the offensive output, that Miami has not scored a touchdown in their last nine quarters dating back to the Thursday night loss in Houston.

The Dolphins aren’t playing with any confidence, at least from the guys that are replacing the injured players. Remember, with Miami at full strength early in the year  they got off to a 3 – 0 start.

So, the bye week comes now and perhaps, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill shoulder will be healed enough that he can practice in 10 days and maybe play at Indianapolis. It’s anybody’s guess as to who, out of the names above, will actually be healthy enough to help Tannehill and the Dolphins for the final six games.

Finally, even though Miami would appear by record to be very much in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot, they don’t look like a playoff team.

No. They’re banged up and look like a team that will be watching the postseason like everybody else.

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Miami Dolphins

Gameday- Dolphins travel to chilly Lambeau Field

Florida Football Insiders

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Dolphins (5-4) at Packers (3-4-1)

When: Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

Spread: Packers by 10 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)

Here’s what to watch:

Continue with takeaways
As double-digit underdogs at Lambeau, the Dolphins really only have one real shot to win this game with the Packers – turnovers. And lots of them.
Granted it was rookie quarterback Sam Darnold last week, but the Fins four interceptions, including Jerome Baker running one in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, were the difference in the game. Whether it’s a strip sack of Aaron Rodgers or being able to get an interception or maybe two off of him, Miami has got to take the football away.
It hurts the Fins that linebacker Kiko Alonso, who we wrote about earlier this week is questionable with an ankle injury, but it looks like he will try to play.
Still, they other veterans on defense have got to pick up the slack and try to make something happen.
Don’t let Rodgers pick you apart
Well that’s a simple phrase above, it’s going to have to be a goal of Miami’s to not give the veteran Pro Bowl quarterback all day to throw and allow him to dissect the Dolphins secondary. Green Bay barely gives the illusion of trying to run the ball, they instead use the short passing attack with Rodgers throwing it to pick up short-yardage, convert third Downs, Etc.
If Miami pass-rushers like Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn and hopefully active after missing a few games with a calf injury, Charles Harris, can make Rogers life difficult than the fans have a better chance to hang in in this one.
Being efficient on offense
There’s no way that Miami can win a shootout against Rodgers, as backup quarterback Brock Osweiler and the weapons Miami has aren’t built for that right now.
However, the Fins can run it some with Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore and the Packers defense has been susceptible a lot of this season. Osweiler needs to convert third downs and move the chains and when Miami gets chances to score points, even field goals, they have to capitalize.
If they fall significantly behind on the road in chili Green Bay, it will be an ugly day..
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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins defensive coordinator Burke under scrutiny

Florida Football Insiders

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Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a tough few weeks for the Dolphins all the way around, but specifically on the defensive side of the ball, the struggles are mounting. And when you throw in a player pouting and essentially pulling a mutiny on the sidelines last Sunday, it’s not good for the defensive coordinator.

That’s what happened a week ago when Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones refused to go back in the game on two occasions during the second half of the Dolphins close 13 – 6 win over the Jets. It’s been a big topic in South Florida for the last few days, and it obviously has defensive coordinator Matt Burke having to answer for what’s going on in the defense of meeting rooms, practices, etc.

Burke’s in his second full season as the defensive coordinator for the Fins, met with the media on Thursday:

As the press continued to poke at him about the Jones situation, you could tell that Burke is over it, as is coach Adam Gase, and they want to move on for this week. However, Jones didn’t make that any easier, when he basically refused to apologize for not wanting to play.

And, moving past it may also be easier said than done, when the opponent is All-Pro quarterback and former League MVP Aaron Rodgers at his house, Lambeau Field.

Yes, the Dolphins have some pass rushers, and that would include second-year defensive end and former number 1 pick Charles Harris returning to practice this week after a calf injury, and he may be able to play. Veteran Cam Wake came alive pressuring Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold repeatedly, and registering a couple of sacks.

However, the defensive plays have been few and far between, as the Dolphins have lost four of the last five games.

That brings us back to Burke, who was elevated after coaching the linebackers in 2016, when Vance Joseph left Miami to become Denver’s head coach. After spending his entire pro career as a linebackers coach, this is his first opportunity to be the guy in charge of the defense.

So, he and Gase can get aggravated with the questioning of what we’re seeing, but the bottom line is: if the Dolphins defense doesn’t continue to step it up, like they did last week, there is going to be much more scrutiny of him.

The oddsmakers have the Dolphins as double-digit underdogs to Rodgers and the Pack.

Now, let’s see if Burke’s unit will rally together, play solidly and give Miami a chance to win Sunday.

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