The Dolphins must win today's game against the Tampa Bay Bucanneers.
That sounds strange to the ears because we are only at the halfway point in the season, a loss wouldn't mathematically eliminate Miami from any race and good things could still happen. But the importance of today's game goes beyond sheer mathematical calculations relative to playoff possibilities.
The reasons Miami must win are two-fold.
The team finds itself 3-5 and the coaching staff has hung a short-term goal of evening that out at 5-5 in the span of five days. In other words, coach Tony Sparano has told his team that despite being 3-5, by next Thursday they could be at .500 if they do good work against Tampa Bay today and on Thursday against Carolina.
"We have two games in a week and we need to get a handle on the first part of this first," Sparano said, "but as I said before there are 16 teams right now that are somewhere between 3 and 5 wins. Well, in a week we can be right in the middle of all that mess, instead of kind of at the end of all that mess. I would say they know the importance, I say they know the importance very much of this football game first. Then we will worry about where we are.”
There is another reason today is a must-win game. Because today is the tipping point. I have noticed on blogs and radio shows that some fans are no longer following the lead of Sparano and Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland in zombie-like fashion.
I've noticed fans starting to question, even disagree at times.
That still represents a minority of fans because Sparano and Parcells and Ireland are still drinking from the resevoir of good will they filled with an 11-5 season in 2008. And rightfully so.
But lose to 1-7 Tampa Bay and the level of that resevoir drops dramatically. The Dolphins, you see, are still not a championship team. But they are a team that has beaten teams they should beat. They might lose games against superior teams, as they have this year and folks understand that.
But they have not lost any games the past couple of years to inferior teams. So fans have an expectation about beating certain bad teams. And the Bucs are inferior. They are young, have a rookie coach, a rookie quarterback, and not a ton of talent. So Miami should beat them.
If the Dolphins do as they are supposed to, everything will remain calm. But if the Dolphins lose today, oh boy, the natives will become restless. The bloom would be off the rose. The honeymoon would be over.
The Dolphins don't want restless natives, finished honeymoons, or de-bloomed roses in their midst. So that makes today's game a must-win.
I request you join me to see what happens during today's live blog of the game. It starts in the comments section below. I will be updating posts with whatever news comes out of the pregame. Meantime, discuss whether today is must-win for the reasons I outlined.
Remember: The Dolphins must win a game they should win. Otherwise, the resevoir of good will is lost.