The final week of the 2022 NFL regular season is here and the Miami Dolphins have a shot to make the playoffs. Of course, they have had a chance to clinch that playoff berth over the last couple of weeks, but they are in the midst of a five-game losing streak and fell from 8-3 at the end of November to 8-8 now. How are fans feeling about the team? Do they think the team will make the playoffs? Should they make the playoffs? And, currently in a second stint in the NFL concussion protocols this year, do fans believe quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starter next year?
Our SB Nation Reacts poll for Week 18 asked all those questions. Perhaps the surprise result of the week came in the fan confidence poll. A weekly look at how fans are feeling about the direction of the Dolphins, the poll spent much of the season in the 95 to 99 percent of fans feeling confident in the direction of the franchise. Over the course of the first four losses of this streak, we have seen it fall to just 34 percent of the fans responding that they are feeling positive about the team, a season-low. Add in the fifth loss, and that number was expected to fall even more. Instead, it actually has gone up some. Our Week 18 poll shows that 48 percent of the fans are confident in the direction of the Dolphins.
For the Dolphins to make the playoffs this year, they have to beat the New York Jets on Sunday and hope the Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots. Up until last week, Miami controlled their own path to the postseason, just needing to pull off wins. The loss to the Patriots in Week 17 allowed New England to move ahead of Miami in the AFC East and the AFC playoff picture. Can the Dolphins get back into a postseason position by the end of the weekend? According to the fan responses to our poll, only 40 percent of the fans think Miami will make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Asked “should” the Dolphins make the playoffs, that number ticked down to 39 percent.
Our final question turned to Tagovailoa and his status with the team. In his third season in the league, Tagovailoa has shown that, when healthy, he can rank among the NFL’s elite. He has the top passer rating in the league and he seems to be in complete control of the Dolphins' offense. The healthy part of that, however, has been the issue. Tagovailoa missed two games after sustaining a concussion in Week 4 and has now missed two games after sustaining a second concussion in Week 17. The injury concerns are valid when it comes to trying to determine Tagovailoa’s future with the Dolphins, and our fan poll seems to reflect that. A majority of fans, 56 percent, believed Tagovailoa returns as the starting quarterback for the Dolphins in 2023, but that number is nowhere near as high as it would be without any injury concerns.
Can Miami make the playoffs? Will the five-game losing streak be forgotten with a place in the postseason and a possibility of making a run? The Dolphins are hoping to see things break the right way for them this weekend, earning their first playoff appearance in six years. How would the fans react if Miami is able to find their way into the seventh-seed position?
Join us on Tuesday for our next SB Nation Reacts fan-confidence poll.