The Miami Dolphins will head into Sunday's game against the New York Jets with a 4-6 record. They haven't yet been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but their chances, as of right now, are pretty slim. The good news? The rest of the AFC isn't all that great, with only the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos at the top of the pack.
The Dolphins must beat the Jets. There is no way around it. If they lose, they won't be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but it would be near impossible for them to slide in. Fortunately, there are a few things going their way with Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis already ruled out. The Dolphins have played better over the past few weeks, although they are coming off a tough loss to the Dallas Cowboys where they fell apart in the third quarter.
It is imperative that they come out firing on all cylinders with a balanced offensive attack while keeping the Jets offensive playmakers in check. The good news is that interim head coach Dan Campbell views this as basically an elimination game, even though he stopped short of saying that.
"You're only eliminated when you're eliminated," said Campbell in a press conference earlier this week. "But I would say this - if you want to get into the playoffs in the AFC then you need to win an AFC game. I'll put it that way."
Looking at the rest of the AFC, we see that the following teams are ahead of the Dolphins in the Wild Card race: Chiefs, Steelers, Texans, Bills, Jets, Raiders and Jaguars. The Steelers have a 6-4 record, the Chiefs, Texans, Bills and Jets have a 5-5 record while the Raiders and Jaguars have a 4-6 record. Behind the Dolphins are the Ravens, Browns, Chargers and Titans. The Ravens are 3-7 while the last three teams are 2-8.
Assuming the Dolphins defeat the Jets, there are a few other things that need to happen for them to inch closer to the playoffs. Earlier this week, Kevin Nogle posted his weekly rooting guide for fans hoping the Dolphins make it into the playoffs. You can find that by clicking here. Make note though that there is really no scenario on Sunday where they will be inserted as the sixth seed after all the games have been completed. It will be a week-by-week process and within two-three weeks, if everything goes right, they can rank as the sixth seed and with a bit of luck, they can even be the fifth seed. Once that happens, more will need to happen and of course, they will need to keep on wining.
It goes without saying that the Dolphins need to basically win out. They can maybe afford one loss, but that would have to be against the New England Patriots in Week 17. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has never been one to panic and he continued that theme this week in his press conference.
"I don't know. I'm not comparing (Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) to anyone else. I think that what he is saying is fact. Obviously it's a tough road ahead of us but every game counts and if we take care of our business and win out then it's out of our hands at that point. All we can do right now is focus on the Jets and winning this game and we'll see what happens from there."
Following the loss against the Cowboys, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard made waves by saying the Dolphins would finish the season 10-6. That meant that they would win every game from here on out. Earlier this week, Ndamukong Suh backed that up and said that he absolutely believes it can be done.
"I have complete confidence in that, we have the ability; we've obviously made it tough on ourselves, but without question I have no problem, I like a guy like Sheppard who has the necessary mindset and the will to be able to go against that task. I may not say it, but that's what I believe."
The head coach of the team has confidence that it can be done. The quarterback of the team has confidence it can be done. The leader of the defense has confidence it can be done. The Dolphins, on Monday, held an emotional team meeting where players took accountability for their mistakes. Suh held a players-only meeting and called out individuals for not playing up to their potential.
All the signs are pointed in the right direction for the Dolphins to take care of business. It's up to them to go out on the field and back up all of the talk from this past week.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter! Follow @FinsInsider