The bad news: If the season had ended this past Sunday, the Dolphins would have been left on the outside looking in at the NFL playoffs. At 5-5, the team would be the eighth seed in the AFC. The players would be preparing for the draft, not the postseason.
The good news is the NFL season will end December 30 against the Buffalo Bills, and the Fins are actually tied for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot. They're tied with four other teams, but tied nonetheless.
Sitting at home eating potato chips and chicken wings, the Dolphins actually saw their chances of making the playoffs increase yesterday. Five teams in the AFC are 5-5. Everyone in the AFC pretty much controls their own destiny at this point. Everyone in the AFC feels terrible about themselves yet also optimistic.
Welcome to parity in the NFL, where hopes and dreams are born from being just not terrible enough.
The guys and gals at Five Reasons Sports Network did a nice job of condensing the AFC's field of stink in a way that might make Dolphins fans hopeful enough to believe not all is lost heading into the team's final six games.
With Baltimore beating the Bengals, the Colts beating the Titans, and the Dolphins being ineligible for a loss thanks to their best player as of late — the bye week — all the dominoes dropped the way Dolphins fans hoping to extend this season into 2019 could have hoped.
The "battle" for the 6 seed in the AFC....— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) November 18, 2018
Dolphins have a win over Titans and a loss to Bengals.....
Game vs. Colts next week may be an elimination game.
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A five way tie for the 6th and final playoff spot in the AFC. Here's how it shakes out at the moment for the Dolphins pic.twitter.com/3WZePlBsKg— Chris Wittyngham (@ChrisWittyngham) November 18, 2018
Next week's schedule for these 5 teams— Chris Wittyngham (@ChrisWittyngham) November 18, 2018
Colts home with the Dolphins
Ravens home with the Raiders
Bengals home with the Browns
Titans at the Texans on Monday Night
The Dolphins, of course, must win a couple more games to make any of this matter, and really, this Sunday's 4:25 p.m. matchup against fellow 5-5 club Indianapolis Colts is a must-win. A loss wouldn't eliminate the Dolphins, of course, but it would mean, for all intents and purposes, they'd need to win the rest of their games to finish the year 10-6. Even then, they might need help to get in.
Other teams can do Miami only so many favors. The Fins will eventually have to win games to make the playoffs. If they don't start this week, they can probably kiss the postseason goodbye.