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Dolphins fan confidence plummets as panic sets in following Ravens loss; AFC East title game vs Bills in Week 18

The Miami Dolphins were blown out in Week 17 as the Baltimore Ravens dominated the game from start to finish. Now, with a Week 18 AFC East title game on tap, how are fans feeling about the direction of the Dolphins?

Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Week 17 was one every Miami Dolphins player, coach, and fan wants to forget as the Baltimore Ravens easily demolished the Dolphins. Miami never found their rhythm in the game, the Ravens marched up and down the field against the Dolphins’ defense, and everything fell apart in a game that could have positioned Miami for the top seed in the AFC playoff picture.

Instead, Miami is now facing a Week 18 AFC East title game against the Buffalo Bills - who blew the Dolphins out earlier this season. Can Miami pull off the Week 18 Sunday Night Football victory over the Bills to secure the division title and the AFC’s second seed?

How are fans feeling about the direction of the Dolphins? Our SB Nation reacts poll, brought to us by DraftKings Sportsbook, is back to answer that question, along with a few more.

Dolphins’ fan confidence

Panic seems to have set in for Dolphins fans. After hitting a season-low of 40 percent after the team’s Week 14 loss to the Tennessee Titans, the fan confidence rating had climbed back up to 91 percent after Week 15 and 94 percent after Week 16. Now, after the loss to the Ravens in Week 17, it once again dropped precipitously, falling down to 58 percent.

A majority of the fans still think the Dolphins, who have clinched a playoff berth this year, are headed in the right direction, but it clearly is not the near consensus we were seeing earlier in the year. How will Week 18’s game against the Bills impact the rating as the regular season ends? We will make sure to come back next week to find out.

2023 fan confidence history (poll taken after results from listed week):

Preseason - 83%
Week 1 - 97%
Week 2 - 97%
Week 3 - 98%
Week 4 - 89%
Week 5 - 94%
Week 6 - 98%
Week 7 - 75%
Week 8 - 95%
Week 9 - 93%
Week 10 - 94%
Week 11 - 92%
Week 12 - 96%
Week 13 - 99%
Week 14 - 40%
Week 15 - 91%
Week 16 - 94%
Week 17 - 58%

Should the Dolphins rest their starters in Week 18 or go for the AFC East division title?

The Dolphins have already clinched a playoff berth, locking them into the championship tournament this year. A win on Sunday over the Bills will give them their first AFC East division title since 2008 and the second seed in the AFC playoff picture. A loss would knock them to the sixth seed as a wild card team. With no bye week for the second-seed team, Miami will be playing next week in the first round of the playoffs no matter where they finish the regular season. With all of their injuries this year, we wanted to get your thoughts on whether the team should go all out to try to win the AFC East title, or should they go ahead and rest their starters, potentially falling back into a wild card position, and give everyone a chance to heal up before the playoffs begin.

The poll results were not overly surprising. With the possibility of home playoff games and the division title coming with a win, 86 percent of the fans say Miami needs to try to beat the Bills. That leaves just 14 percent thinking Miami might be better off resting their starters and getting healthy for next week.

Do the Dolphins have to win during Wild Card weekend for this season to be considered a success?

Miami has not won a playoff game since 2000. They are in a great position this year to end that streak. But must they do it for fans to see the 2023 NFL season as a success for the Dolphins?

According to our poll, 89 percent of the fans think that, yes, the Dolphins must win next week and make it to at least the Divisional Round of the playoffs for this season to be seen as a success.

Should cornerback Jalen Ramsey shadow Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs this week?

Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is a firm believer in cornerbacks being assigned sides of the field, not man-to-man receiver matchups. Miami’s opponents have taken advantage of that tendency, moving their star receivers away from cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Normally, Miami can offset that to some degree with Xavien Howard on the opposite side of the field, but Miami is expected to rely on Eli Apple opposite Ramsey with Howard out with a foot injury.

Teams have also used pre-snap motion to match up a top receiver with nickel cornerback Kader Kohou. While Kohou, in his second season, has developed into a solid nickel cornerback, when a team is placing their top receiver in the slot, Miami needs to react and provide the cornerback with assistance. It has bitten the Dolphins multiple times this year.

When Miami lost to the Bills back in Week 4, wide receiver Stefon Diggs had six receptions for 120 yards and three touchdowns. Buffalo will likely be looking to see another big day from Diggs, and they could motion him to create the mismatches that allow it it happen. However, Fangio could shake things up by allowing Ramsey to shadow Diggs wherever he goes on the field, matching up Miami’s best cornerback with the Bills’ best receiver.

According to our poll, 84 percent of the respondents believe that is what Miami should do. The other 16 percent believe the Dolphins should just stick with their normal defensive plan, leaving Ramsey on whoever is lined up on his side of the field.

National Survey

Along with our Dolphins-related poll posted here on The Phinsider every week, there is also a national survey that is emailed each week. The results of this week’s survey did not have anything overly Miami related, so we did not include a look at those results. However, if you would like to join in on the national survey, including when Dolphins related questions are included in the email, you can follow the link below.

If you want to receive the national survey each week, sign up here to participate in the emailed surveys.

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