The Miami Dolphins were embarrassed by the Buffalo Bills in its home opener in week two. This was disheartening because that game was supposed to demonstrate how much Miami had closed the gap on the AFC East champions. However, the Dolphins still tout they were a playoff contender. What better way to show that than to get a road win against the overachieving Las Vegas Raiders.
What happened in Vegas?
Vegas was hot and in the same fashion, Miami got off to a hot start. Behind a long run for a touchdown and an even longer pick-six, the Dolphins were up 14 points early. For anyone that has ever gambled, you know that fortunes can change quickly. The Dolphins gave up 25 unanswered points. The Raiders rally included a safety, missed Miami field goal, and some undisciplined play on Miami’s part. This ultimately led to a Raiders comeback victory.
The Dolphins lost in every statistical category with the exception of turnovers and sacks allowed. The Raiders out-gained them in passing and rushing yardage. Las Vegas also dominated time of possession, average yards per play, and third-down efficiency. It’s practically impossible to win a game like that. Nonetheless, Miami still was a field goal away from being victorious.
Miami must shake these last two losses off now. The sky isn’t falling. Well, at least not yet. The Dolphins sit at the same record as last year after three games. Last season, the Dolphins went on a run to finish with 10 wins. More importantly, the early season stumbles might have been what caused the Dolphins to miss the playoffs.
The time is now.
The AFC is a jumbled mess right now. There are also some surprising teams sitting at the bottom. The Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers currently are in last place in their divisions with one win apiece. You get the feeling that at the very least the Chiefs will right the ship and the Steelers will find a way to be in the mix at the end of the season.
There are five teams in the AFC with one win. The Dolphins need to separate from that pack and not fall behind them. Miami takes on the winless Indianapolis Colts this weekend. A win this week puts a different outlook on the season. Especially since the Bills are 2-1 and favored in their matchup this week against the Houston Texans. At 2-2, the Dolphins would still be in striking distance of the Bills.
On the other hand, a loss would be devastating. Making up three games on the Bills would be very difficult to near impossible. That would mean Division hopes would be over before week five. As far as a wildcard goes, all of Miami’s losses have been to Conference foes. This puts the Dolphins in a precarious situation for tie-break scenarios just like last season.
Must win game?
So yes, this week-four matchup against the winless Colts is a must-win. One thing the Dolphins must change is to figure out how to get Jaylen Waddle space to operate. The rookie has been a favorite target for both Jacoby Brissett and Tua Tagovailoa. The problem is the play calling is limiting his yards after catch potential. Against the Raiders, Waddle had 12 receptions for just 58 yards. That’s one of the fewest yard totals with as many receptions seen in over 70 years.
There are two things that have been consistent about the Brian Flores-led Dolphins.
- The Dolphins get off to slow season starts
- The Dolphins overachieve and exceed expectations
In each of the previous two seasons under Flores, the season looked grim in the beginning, yet somehow each time they finished strong.
Fully expect history to repeat itself and that starts with a win over the Colts.