By Greg Fuchs
Sitting at 8-8 and losers of 5 games in a row would appear to put the
Miami Dolphins at deaths doors in regard to making the AFC playoffs.
But with one week left in the NFL regular season, the Dolphins still have
a chance. And a fairly realistic chance at that. But it will require some
First off, Miami must defeat the Jets at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
This is easier said that done considering all of the injuries Miami has.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will likely miss his second game in a row
with a concussion. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater’s status is unknown
due to a finger injury he suffered in last week’s game. If he were to miss
the game Miami’s playoff chances would lie in the hands of rookie 7 th
round pick Skyler Thompson.
Fortunately Miami is playing the 7-9 Jets, also losers of 5 straight. But
expecting a rookie QB to lead you to victory in the most important
game of the year is a lot to ask. Especially with Miami also having
multiple injuries on the offensive line.
In last week’s loss to the Patriots, Miami was playing without both of its
starting tackles. Right tackle Austin Jackson is still on the IL while Pro
Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead missed the game with multiple
injuries and his status for week 18 is unknown. Armstead’s backup
Kendall Lamm was injured in the Patriots game and is out for this week,
which would leave Miami with 3 rd string tackle Greg Little protecting
Bridgewater’s or Thompson’s blind slide in the event Armstead can’t
play. Hardly an ideal situation to take on a strong Jets defense.
And Miami’s injury concerns continue on the defensive side of the ball.
Cornerback Xavien Howard and edge rusher Bradley Chubb both missed
the Patriots game and their status for this week it up in the air. Without
Howard, the Dolphins would be missing 4 of their top 5 defensive backs
as Nik Needham and Brandon Jones are out for the season with injuries
while cornerback Byron Jones has been on the PUP list all season.
The Jets have struggled on offense for most of the season, so I would
expect a close, low scoring game on Sunday. Miami head coach Mike
McDaniels will need to come up with some creative play calling if Miami
is to win the game.
The other thing that needs to happen for the Dolphins to make the
playoffs is the Patriots need to lose in Buffalo. Normally you would feel
comfortable with that, but considering the nightmare scenario that
played out during the Monday night game that saw Bills safety Damar
Hamlin collapse on the field with a heart seizure, who knows what to
expect from the Bills.
How motivated will they be in light of Hamlin’s health situation? Also,
the Bills have already secured at least a 1 st round home game in the
playoffs, so they could have a very understandable mental let down for
It’s even possible Buffalo could sit out some starters to avoid injuries
prior to the start of the playoffs. But Buffalo might also have a shot at
the #1 overall seed in the playoffs depending on what happens in the
Chiefs game on Saturday and what the NFL decides to do with the
postponed Bills/Bengals game from Monday night.
Right now there are so many unknowns for the Bills for this game it
could benefit the Patriots.
If the Dolphins are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, they would
make it as the #7 seed. That would result in a road matchup against the
Bills, Bengals, or Chiefs.
Not making the playoffs would be one of the great failures in Dolphins
history as they were riding high at 8-3 just 5 weeks ago. It’s time to see
what McDaniels and the 2022/2023 Miami Dolphins are made of.