As evidenced by the Miami Dolphins' shocking 30-15 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers this past weekend, there is a reason the phrase "any given Sunday" is so popular. Any NFL team can beat any other team any week, and that really isn't too surprising once the initial shock passes. But that's little comfort to Dolphins fans, who continually watch their team play both the role of the shockingly upset favorite and the surprisingly successful underdog in the same season every single year.
It's torturous, perplexing, and downright cruel watching the Dolphins seesaw annually, but we've become accustomed to their inconsistent ways — so accustomed to them, in fact, that we can now formulate a five-step process that is every Miami Dolphins season. There are always
1. The early-season disappointment
Over the past ten years, the Dolphins have started the season a combined 13-27 over their first four games. At this point, it's almost a relief that each season they instantly let you know what kind of pain you're in for right off the bat. Hey, at least they don't drum up early-season hope any longer like they used to do years ago when they would start hot and then disintegrate in the cold weather late in the year.
The first mile marker of a Dolphins season is always the death of any preseason expectations. We can now all move on to the second step of a Miami Dolphins season.
2. The inexplicable win
No one expected the Dolphins to whoop the Steelers' asses last weekend. It almost makes you angrier when the Dolphins win these games because the mere fact that they happen makes the putrid losses hurt that much more. For instance: This season, the Dolphins got their asses kicked by the Tennessee Titans and then turned around and beat the Steelers. What?
This point in the Dolphins' season doesn't happen every year. Sometimes they just flat-out suck the entire year and fans never get this moment of fresh air.
3. The "In the Hunt" Illusion
By this point in 2016, it's clear the Fins are having a terrible season. But do you know what last Sunday's win against the Steelers did? It put the Dolphins back in the hunt! You know, the hunt? The hunt for a playoff spot? For about a decade, that hunt has been fruitless, and for about two decades, that hunt has resulted in exactly zero playoff wins. But we keep hunting!
The Dolphins could be behind seven teams for the final wildcard playoff spot, but for some reason they would still appear in graphics touting them as having a chance to be in the playoff discussion. When this happens this season when the Dolphins are 4-7, please ignore it. The illusion will only hurt you.
4. The sobering reality
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This one normally comes via a Buffalo Bills loss. Somehow the Dolphins always play the Buffalo Bills when the Fins barely have a pulse left, and the Bills always step on their faces. It hurts most because the Dolphins do this thing where they make you believe four different times that the season is over and then pull you back in — and then painfully remind you why it's all over again. It's like that joke back in high school when your friend kept pretending to let you in the car, only to inch ahead ten feet every time you tried to get in. It's exactly like that, only imagine your friend backing the car over you once he's done toying with your emotions.
It's easy to say you'll never again let the Dolphins break your heart, but it's much tougher to not get caught up in the excitement once they inch closer to the playoff race. Don't let them fool you this year. Eh, who are we kidding? Resistance is futile. You'll believe in them no matter who warns you.
5. The meaningless, counterproductive win
It wouldn't be a Dolphins season without a late-season win against a team that has nothing to play for. Many times, it's the New England Patriots that come to town with zero to play for in the final week of the season. Last year, the Baltimore Ravens showed up on the schedule with no motivation except to further weaken the Dolphins' final draft position by gifting Miami a meaningless win. This season, the Dolphins play the Patriots in the last week of the season, and it's shaping up to look like the Patriots will once again have absolutely no reason to give it all they have.
Each Dolphins season follows roughly the same script. Good news! This season is right on schedule.