The Miami Dolphins are set to face the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. Miami comes off their bye week getting healthy and comfortably in first place in the AFC East. They are sitting among the top teams in the AFC and should prove to be a tough out when the playoffs come. But there is a problem when it comes to the Raiders game. It simply will not change the storyline surrounding the Dolphins this year.
Miami, 6-3 on the season, has beaten the Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots (twice), Denver Broncos, New York Giants, and Carolina Panthers. Those teams - counting the Patriots twice - are a combined 15-34, giving them a 0.306 winning percentage. Miami’s three losses this year, to the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, and Kanas City Chiefs, have come at the hands of teams with a combined 20-8 record, a 0.714 winning percentage. And, that mark comes with the Bills stumbling to record of 5-5 over the last few weeks.
Analysts have noticed the differences in Miami’s performance against losing-record teams and winning-record (including the Bills). A 6-0 record against lower-level teams, a 0-3 record against the top-tier teams. It is a storyline that will continue until Miami forces it to end.
Enter the Raiders in Week 11 - and the fact that the storyline does not change no matter what happens.
Las Vegas is 5-5 this season. With a Miami win in this game, they fall to 6-4. With a Raiders win, Las Vegas moves to 6-5.
A Miami win comes against a team with a losing record again. A Raiders win means the Dolphins lost to a team with a winning record again.
No matter what happens this weekend, the storyline confirms itself.
Unintentionally sounding like a long-running debate on the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, are the Raiders a good team? If they win in Week 11, they are 6-5 and in the AFC playoff picture. That sounds like a good team - which adds to the narrative that Miami cannot beat good teams.
If the Raiders lose, they are 5-6 and struggling to stay relevant in the AFC West, where the Chiefs lead at 7-2 and the Chargers and Broncos are both 4-5 and could move ahead of Las Vegas. That sounds like a struggling team - which adds to the narrative that Miami only beats “bad” teams.
Week 11 could continue to push Miami toward their first AFC East title since 2008. It could move them into a near-lock to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999 and 2000. It could cement Miami as an upper-tier team in the AFC in 2023.
But it cannot change the narrative of Miami winning against losing teams and losing against winning teams.