The Miami Dolphins entered Week 16 of the 2017 NFL regular season with slim chances to make the playoffs for a second-straight year. They will now enter Week 17 looking to play spoiler as their playoff chances ended with their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Dolphins tried to keep the game close, heading into halftime down just a touchdown, losing 20-13, but the second half featured just Kansas City scores, leading to a final of 29-13.
Miami can keep their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills, from making the playoffs when they face off next week. Other than that, the Dolphins are looking toward 2018 and fixing the issues that arose throughout the season. The Dolphins will start their improvements for 2018 with the return of several starters who spent much of, if not all of, the season on injured reserve. That will include starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who injured his knee during training camp and had to have surgery ending what should have been his sixth-season in the league.
Joining Tannehill on the injured reserve list this year was safety Nate Allen, linebacker Lamin Barrow, guard Jermon Bushrod, wide receiver Isaiah Ford, defensive end William Hayes, tackle Ja’Wuan James, cornerback Tony Lippett, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, linebacker Koa Misi, center Anthony Steen, and tight end Julius Thomas. Among that group, starters or key contributors include Allen, Bushrod, Hayes, James, Lippett, McMillan, Steen, and Thomas.
Misi, who may have a career-ending neck injury, could come back if he is medically cleared and he is a solid run-stuffing linebacker who can still be an asset for the team. Add him to the lineup as a reserve linebacker who can be insert into the lineup in run situations, and the defense is stronger. Again, he has to be medically cleared, but to just rule him out of being a contributor seems premature.
The Dolphins will host the Bills on Sunday, a game that was moved to 4:25pm ET, with Buffalo needing a win to end a 17-year streak of missing the postseason. Miami can make that 18 years if they can split the season series with the Bills, who won in Buffalo in Week 15.
The current AFC playoff picture is:
1. New England Patriots (12-3, AFC East champions, bye)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3, AFC North champions)*
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5, AFC South champions)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6, AFC West champions)
5. Baltimore Ravens (9-6, Wildcard 1 leaders)
6. Tennessee Titans (8-7, Wildcard 2 leaders)
Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)
Buffalo Bills (8-7)
*Play on Monday
The Steelers can clinch a first-round bye with a win on Monday.