The Miami Dolphins are a win away from clinching a winning record for the 2022 NFL season. Typically, that is a good feeling for a fan base, especially when the team also has a chance to clinch a playoff berth a week before the season ends. Things would seem to be heading in the right direction when your team has those milestones sitting right in front of them.
Except, the Dolphins have been a win away from clinching a winning record since Thanksgiving weekend. Miami lost their Week 13 game at the San Francisco 49ers, then lost again in Week 14 at the Los Angeles Chargers, and again in Week 15 at the Buffalo Bills. Last week, they returned home looking to get back to winning football, only to lose for a fourth-straight week, this time against the Green Bay Packers. The once 8-3 Dolphins are now the 8-7 Dolphins, a team spiraling down after a strong start to the year.
And, the fan confidence in the direction of the Dolphins matches that downward trend. After reaching as high as 99 percent of the fans feeling like Miami was headed in the right direction, our SB Nation Reacts fan poll in Week 15 dropped to just 56 percent of the fans feeling positive about the team. Last week, that rebounded to 77 percent, despite the loss to the Bills. Now, with another loss on the record, the fan confidence has fallen off a cliff, dropping to just 34 percent of Dolphins fans feeling confidence in the direction of the team.
The Dolphins can right the ship this weekend when they face the New England Patriots. Having already defeated their AFC East rivals once this year, Miami could complete the season sweep, clinch their winning record, and put themselves in position to make the postseason. If Miami beats New England, and the New York Jets lose to the Seattle Seahawks later in the day, the Dolphins would be locked into the playoffs.
Miami’s playoff position can also be locked in if they win against the Patriots, then beat the Jets in Week 18. A loss to the Patriots does not end Miami’s postseason hopes, as they could still make the playoffs with a win over the Jets in Week 18 and a New England loss to the Buffalo Bills that weekend.
The Dolphins are making it as difficult on themselves as they can, especially given that at one point this year, they were the top team in the AFC playoff picture. Now, they are fighting to regain their momentum and to make it to the championship tournament. And, they are going to have to do it with backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leading the team this weekend as starter Tua Tagovailoa is sidelined with a concussion for the second time this season. Just another way to make it difficult.
Will the team get back to winning this weekend? Will they clinch the playoffs? Will our SB Nation Reacts fan confidence poll rebound with a win? Will it continue down the cliff with another loss?
Join us on Tuesday for our next SB Nation Reacts fan-confidence poll.