Fresh of the Miami Dolphins' first win of the season, a 31-3 dismantling of the Kansas City Chiefs, the team is finally starting to look like...well...a team. The offense was clicking. The defense was clicking. The special teams were clicking. Everything worked on Sunday, and that led to this question.
What can the Dolphins do over the last eight weeks of the season?
Could the Dolphins make a run and finish the season 7-9, for the third straight year?
Still ahead on the Dolphins schedule are games at home against the Washington Redskins, the two game set with the Buffalo Bills, the Thanksgiving Day game at the Dallas Cowboys, home games against the Oakland Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles, at the New England Patriots, and finally at home against the New York Jets on New Year's Day.
Could Miami make a 6-out-of-8 run to make it to the 7-9?
Theoretically, the Dolphins could still come out at 9-7, their first winning season since 2008. But, that's not realistic. Even just one loss is probably not realistic, but dropping only two of the games could be possible - assuming the Dolphins play like they did today for the rest of the season.
The Washington Redskins are just 3-5 so far this season, and lost 19-11 to the San Francsico 49ers yesterday. They are starting Miami cast-off John Beck at quarterback have no no rushing attack to speak of right now. The Dolphins could move to 2-7 with back-to-back wins next week.
The following week, the Dolphins welcome the Buffalo Bills to Miami. The Bills have been playing really well this season, and are currently 5-3, in second place in the AFC East. However, with the game in Miami, the Dolphins could (should?) be able to pick up a win here, as well.
If these two game fall Miami's way, they could be looking at a 3-7 record heading into the short week/Thanksgiving Day game at the Dallas Cowboys. If there is any team in the league that understands the Dallas Cowboys, it's the Miami Dolphins. The Cowboys are once again struggling amidst high expectations. Quarterback Tony Romo continues to be hot and cold - and Miami has a chance to exploit that. If the pass rush is there, the Dolphins can force Romo in to some mistakes. Those mistakes could mean the Dolphins win in Dallas on Thanksgiving - and continue their league best .833 winning percentage on Thanksgiving (discounting the 1-0 record the New Orleans Saints have from their first appearance last year).
After that, the Dolphins get the long, nearly bye week to prepare for the Oakland Raiders, who will be making the West to East trek ahead of a 1pm game. The Raiders lost to the Denver Broncos, with another Tim Tebow led comeback, yesterday, falling to 4-4. They are still trying to figure out what Carson Palmer brings them, although he did pass for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Broncos (and 3 interceptions). If Miami can come off the "bye" week they get before this game ready, they can take this one too.
That would put Miami on a 5 game win streak before hosting the Philadelphia Eagles. This won't be an easy game, and the Eagles have a ton of talent. But, nothing so far this season makes me think the Dolphins couldn't pull the upset and beat the Eagles. It will be interesting to see how Philadelphia looks against the Chicago Bears tonight. The Dolphins do have the advantage of playing this game in Miami, rather than what will be a cold Philadelphia in mid-December.
The Dolphins finish the season with three straight AFC East games. If Miami can split the season series with each division rival, Miami will lose in Week 15 to the Bills, beat the New England Patriots in Foxboro during Week 16, and beat the Jets in the final game of the season, in Miami. That's a tough task, but not unimaginable.
Could the Dolphins make it to 7-9? Sure. Is it likely? Probably not. I can realistically see Miami go on a 5 game win streak here, beating the Redskins, Bills, Cowboys, and Raiders, to go with yesterday's win; but I think the last four weeks will see Miami go 1-3 or 0-4.
Best case, that would make Miami 6-10, more likely 5-11. And, this is all speculation on one game's performance. Will Miami be able to keep up that level of play over the remaining half of the season? We can all only hope and wait to see.