So this weekend is a holiday weekend. You might have some big plans to celebrate the new year. By Sunday, you might be traveling. Or you might be exhausted from partying. Or you might still be partying. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are closing out another disappointing season. This team has frustrated you all year long. And when it comes to football, you are already looking forward to the offseason and the NFL Draft in April.
I admit it might be hard to find the time or energy to care about Sunday's season finale in New England against the Patriots. That's why I've compiled this list of reasons as to why you should care about Sunday's game between the Dolphins and Patriots.
The list is in no particular order:
1. Brandon Marshall's shot at the franchise single-season receptions record. With just 83 receiving yards on Sunday, Marshall can top the 1,000 yard mark for the fourth consecutive year - a feat not achieved very often. Perhaps more importantly, Marshall is just nine receptions away from the Dolphins' team record for receptions in a season. O.J. McDuffie had 90 in 1998. So a 10 catch, 100 yard performance on Sunday for Marshall would help him achieve those two milestones. And this is despite missing 2 and a half games with a hamstring injury.
2. Chad Henne's interesting potential accomplishment. Despite all of the negativity surrounding Henne recently, the young quarterback has a chance to pass Chad Pennington and have the most passing yards in a season by any Dolphins quarterback not named Dan Marino. Marino has the top ten spots on the most passing yards in a season list. Pennington is 11th, with his 3,653 yard performance in '08. Henne would need 423 yards against the Patriots on Sunday - which would indeed be a career high. But hey - crazier things have happened.
3. Sparano's last stand. In light of the recent report from the NFL Network's Michael Lombardi, perhaps this isn't true. But still, Tony Sparano's seat is still hot. And even if Bill Parcells has contacted Stephen Ross to help save Sparano's job (as the report claims), you have to figure even a vote of confidence from Parcells won't save Tony if his team shows any sign of having quit already on Sparano this week.
4. Wake as the 2010 sack master. Cameron Wake, already headed to his first Pro Bowl, leads the league with 14 sacks. He's one up on John Abraham and 1.5 up on Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware, and Jason Babin. He's gone cold these past two games - going without a sack in back-to-back games for the first time this season. But he can still win the sack crown - and can even make the top five in franchise history if he can pick up two sacks on Sunday, which would tie Wake with Doug Betters and his 16 sack performance back in 1983.
5. Incognito making a case. We all already know that re-signing nose tackle Paul Soliai is probably priority number one this offseason when it comes to retaining their own guys. But Richie Incognito is also a free agent after the year. He's been average (at the very least) as the team's left guard - but played very well last week when he got the start at center. There was a noticeable difference in Miami's ability to run the football last week when Incognito was at center compared to when Joe Berger was in there. Richie will now have a shot to prove his performance last week wasn't a fluke when he goes against massive NT Vince Wilfork. The suddenly well behaved lineman has a chance to earn some decent money with a solid performance.
6. A shot at punting history. Last year Brandon Fields fell just short of breaking John Kidd's single-season record of 46.295 gross yards per punt. Fields is very close once again. If, for example, Fields was to punt five times and average 51 gross yards per punt, he would break Kidd's record. That's right, folks - I'm talking about punting. That's what this all has come to as we close out the season.
7. It's our team in the field one final time - for who knows how long. As much as this team frustrates us all, we are all still Miami Dolphins fans. This is our team. We only get 16 of these games a year. After Sunday, we will have to wait nine long months before seeing our beloved, yet consistently frustrating, team on the field for a meaningful game - and that's at the very least. Remember, there is some looming labor trouble in the NFL. I wouldn't anticipate a prolonged work stoppage - but you never know. Forget about wins and losses for just one day and enjoy the game for what it is - a game.