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Some thoughts as we get back on track

I'm baaaack. As the Dolphins have been off the past few days, I was similarly in rest mode. The club returns to work Monday and so does the publication of this blog.

Check back this afternoon for updates on nose tackle Jason Ferguson's serious injury. Check back for the status of center Jake Grove, whose status is also in question based on the ankle injury he sustained last Thursday versus Carolina.

In the meantime there are some thoughts I have circulating in my head.

First, as I write in my column that appears in Monday's Miami Herald, the Dolphins have rebounded from their potentially catastrophic first three weeks of the season. Remember black September? It brought the Dolphins three losses and a starting quarterback that went out for the year.

It would be a potentially season-killing blow to most teams. It wasn't for Miami.

The column details why not and some other setbacks the Dolphins have overcome to reach 5-5.

Watching the NFL action this weekend was interesting as it relates to the Dolphins.

Watching Cincinnati lose to Oakland, watching Pittsburgh lose to Kansas City, I couldn't help but think about the Dolphins and how they simply don't allow upsets.

Since the Bill Parcells-Jeff Ireland-Tony Sparano era began, the Dolphins have lost 10 games. I would have expected each one of those losses because they came against understandably superior teams -- teams more talented or simply more complete.

But games against inferior teams -- teams such as St. Louis, Seattle, Oakland, Kansas City, San Francisco, Buffalo, or Tampa Bay?

The Dolphins simply do not lose those type of games. They don't play down to the level of the competition. They don't lose focus against such inferior teams. They avoid the mojo-killing upsets.

That's important because the Dolphins have a couple of those games coming in this season's final six weeks. One of those is Sunday at Buffalo against the 3-7 and nose-diving Bills. The Dolphins cannot afford a letdown against such a down-and-out team.

Their recent history suggests they won't suffer that problem.

By the way, if the season ended today, the Dolphins would not be in the playoffs. They are currently on the outside looking in. Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Denver are tied for the two wild-card spots with 6-4 records. Houston can join this group with a victory tonight.

The Dolphins find themselves in the same group with Baltimore and Houston (should it lose tonight) as teams one game back of the wild-card pack. But here's the rub:

The Dolphins play Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and Houston before the season is out so they have the ability to close the gap.

Looking at it, the season's final two weeks at home -- against Houston and Pittsburgh -- are beginning to loom as season-making or season-breaking weeks.

The season promises to hit a climax at just the right time!

Check back later.  

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First

Precisely....I think that Houston game will be huge....but beware Jax & Tenn, they are both playing better ball than they were a few weeks ago...this ferguson thing kills me, he was a key cog in our D for sure.

So we're all Titans fans tonight...I can live with that...

Welcome back Armando!!! I'm really pumped for this second half, and really overjoyed with the progress of Henne, he has matured more and more each game, unlike another QB who people were annointing into the Hall of Fame early in the year...aka 4 picks, one fumble Sanchez...And Sean Smith and Vonte Davis ARE the real deal...this team has a lot to look forward too this year and in the future! Bb

This season might just come down to the Pitt game! Could we knock out the defending champs this year just like the chumps (jets) last year? I bet we beat Buff, Jax, Houston, and a close one w/Tenn, lose to NE ....then for the 6th seed play Pitt. Should be good!

LEt's just beat the Bills before we worry about Pittsburgh and everybody else.

I don't know why everybody thinks that miami won't beat the patriots. I personally think that they have the defense that can blank them like they did in 2005. The winning formula is blanking welker all game and double moss all game. If we do this, then we will win the game.

Agreed let's just focus on bills lol

bond is right. we had the lead in the mid 3rd quarter. team has shown they can hang with high-scoring/throiwing teams...just need to get over the hump.

dec 6th is the time to do it.

But games against inferior teams -- teams such as St. Louis, Seattle, Oakland, Kansas City, San Francisco, Buffalo, or Tampa Bay?

Why leave the jests out of this? They are most certaintly an "inferior" team as the Fins have beaten then 3 straight!

what's the point in being "first" if you have nothing of value to say? Just don't get it.

Best flix this Sunday "Kill Bills Part 2"

jets suck

"But games against inferior teams -- teams such as St. Louis, Seattle, Oakland, Kansas City, San Francisco, Buffalo, or Tampa Bay?"

Why leave the jests out of this list? They certaintly are an "inferior" team as the Fins have beaten them 3 times in a row. Ha ha

To be an optimist, the Phins have overcome a tremendous amout of adversity so far. They have have been in every game and Chad Henne seems ready for the job.
But injuries are mounting. Jason Fergason is out for the season. Last week the Phins lost their best skill player in Ronnie Brown.
How much more can this young team withstand.

Welcome back Armandito. Good column today. I agree with you, we're out of the hole.

Looking forward to the updates later today. We're back!

I think it's really fun and exciting to look at the big picture of the play-offs, after an 0-3 start. I am concerned that the games that seem insignificant will be overlooked in luu of the BIG PICTURE. Mando I agree we still have a road to climb with the injuries, but I believe what we have is a team who are THE JUNKYARD DOGS!! I have seen more heart and soul in this bunch of guys than I have in many, many recent years! Go JUNKYARD DOGS!!GO FINS!!

I agree! We need to focus on the bills, because as fans watching the game we need to garner our collective psychic energies in support of our fins and we wouldn't want to be distracted by "looking ahead". As prayer has been scientifically proven to help medically, so too it has been proven to help football teams and we need to beat the Bills fans on that front as well. Some of us may be getting prematurely excited by our playoff hopes, but that is no excuse for letting the team down on gameday. Don't let the fact that most of us won't be attending the game in Buffalo, meaning we won't have to gameplan our cheering with the Paul Pasqouloni, confuse you into letting up just a bit.

Yup, we fans writing on sports blogs need to focus on the bills...


Tell you what.. We should win this week , and New England will probably lose , which means the game in 2 weeks will be for a chance to go in to a tie for the AFC East lead. Big game.. We will decide our own fate if New England loses this week. Also I told every body. RICK WILLIAMS was by far the best running back on the team.. I love Ronnie and he is an awesome back.. But Ricky has always been incredibly special...

where are the "GRADING DOLPHINS" for the last game???????

The bills played jax very tough. The phins need to worry about beating the bills before anything else

what IS the deal with Ferguson?

I JUST SAW THIS;

TEAMS W/500 RECORD AT THIS POINT OF THE SEASON THEY HAVE 28 PERCENT TO GO TO PLAYOFFS WHICH IS VERY GOOD CHANCE .

JETS STARTED 0-3 NOW 4-6
THE MOST TRUTHFUL STATMENT MADE BY BLOGGERS HERE AND COMES TRUE ALL THE TIME IS THIS ( WAIT,THE JETS WILL CRASH AND BURN ) .

If I remember well, last year we had a really tough time against supposedly "inferior" competition, barely squeaking by teams such a as KC, Seattle, Saint Louis, Oakland, to name some...I do believe we played down to the level of those teams so I hope this year we can really assert ourselves as maybe not an elite team but a good one by beating the "underdogs" decisively...although there are no easy wins in the NFL. This year we MUST beat Houston!! Go Fins!!

As much as I want them to win and make the playoffs, if you think of all the needs this team has in terms of DT, MLB, Safety, WR, in order to become an elite team, I wouldn't be all that upset if they are out of playoffs this year and get better draft picks.

Armando, I think you saying we don't "play down" to the level of our competition is not accurate. Have we dominated these games. Anything but. Both Jets games? Close? Carolina and Tampa? Very Close? KC & St Louis last year? Close. I think our mistake-free football is good enough to give us a chance to beat the very good teams and good enough to beat ok teams. When we turn the ball over, we're on the same level as ok teams and can't beat good teams. Good teams can overcome turnovers. We can't - yet. How many blowouts can you recall from the past 2 years? Not many. In fact, we've only won 3 games by more than 10 points over the past 2 seasons (twice against Buffalo and once against the Pats). We're not more talented than most teams. We win by being more disciplined (less turnover & penalties, etc.). We don't win because more talented. This year is proving we are getting deeper though, so progress is being made.

Miami does control its own destiny now. Saw a comment in another Herald article saying otherwise. They win out they get a wild card since they play Houston, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville.

Buffalo game should not be overlooked. Especially if the weather is bad.

I have called it from the beginning: 8 - 8, no playoffs.

The biggest victory for Miami this weekend was the loss to Pitt. This puts Miami 1 game out of 2 wild card spots and not just 1 spot. The Bengals have beat the Ravens and Steelers twice, so they have a major advantage to win that division with winning the tie breaker. The only way the Bengals loss helps us is if we win the division and get a better seed than them...

Anything is possible...

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY!! GO PHINS!

Looking ahead is extremely dangerous-we focus on Buffalo and that's all...the rest will play out the way it will play out. For sure, Cincy looked at the Raiders the wrong way and they got whacked....we can't allow that.

We need to remain focused and not scenario ahead..Buffalo has nothing to gain by beating us...and that's what they want to do! Sure we can beat them but they would love to be the spoiler...yeah, I would want the same.
T.O. needs to polish himself up if he wants to get out of the Iceberg Nation up there.

Pittsburgh has lost its backup QB (Batch) and the starter (Big Ben) may be out for a while due to concussions. That could seriously change theirr playoff destiney.

Who cares what the weather will be in Buffalo ..it's called FOOTBALL WEATHER. Stop thinking that all games are played in sunny 80 degree weather!!!!

Houston's a feaking headache. what is it with that team?? even when they were a lowly expansion team they still kicked our butts?

Well Armando, the Fins ALMOST laid an egg against TB but managed to pull it out-shouldn't have come to that point but...it's a win.
While I don't think this miami team is playoff material, they still control their destiny and will get in IF they win all their games? Impossible-improbable? I'd say yes but the Fins managed to go 9-0 to win the division last year so one can never say never.

Don't forget that the Steelers lost Palomalo (SP?), too.

"I don't know why everybody thinks that miami won't beat the patriots. I personally think that they have the defense that can blank them like they did in 2005. The winning formula is blanking welker all game and double moss all game. If we do this, then we will win the game.

Posted by: bond,david bond"

bond, david bond: take a GOOD look at our secondary...do you onestly think we can blanket Walker & double Moss successfully. last time I checked, Moss burned our secondary for 170 yards. I'm pretty sure Welker had a good day too.

Good to see you back Armando...I thought you called it quits after reading some of the comments on here the last 3 or 4 days.I still think we can win the division,but it all starts with the game against the Bills.

DP,
The steelers are championship caliber, battle tested team. They'll be there in the end maybe not as the division winner but they'll be in the playoffs. I'd like their chances to advance vs. Bengals though I know the Bengals swept them & the Ravens. I guess that's what losing to the Raiduhs will do to ya! :o)

armando,
any comments about the latest parcells rumor re: the cleveland browns? how much credibility do you put into it? Thxs

"Miami does control its own destiny now. Saw a comment in another Herald article saying otherwise. They win out they get a wild card since they play Houston, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville."

Patrick, just checked it out now. You are almost right. If we win out, we could still wind up in a three (or more) way tie for a wild card spot.

The following is the tie-breaker procedure when 3 or more clubs are involved:
1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the three Wild-Card participants.

This would eliminate either Baltimore or Pittsburgh and either Jacksonville or Houston.

2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)

This could happen assuming Baltimore loses one more game and Denver loses 2 more as we would play all the remaining teams in the wild card hunt. Still don't control our own destiny here.

3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

Assuming we win out, we would still be in a 3 way tie here with Denver and Jacksonville.

4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.

I'm not even going to try to figure this one out.

Either way, still some sorting out to do before the Phins control their own destiny.

"Miami does control its own destiny now. Saw a comment in another Herald article saying otherwise. They win out they get a wild card since they play Houston, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville."

Patrick, just checked it out now. You are almost right. If we win out, we could still wind up in a three (or more) way tie for a wild card spot.

The following is the tie-breaker procedure when 3 or more clubs are involved:
1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the three Wild-Card participants.

This would eliminate either Baltimore or Pittsburgh and either Jacksonville or Houston.

2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)

This could happen assuming Baltimore loses one more game and Denver loses 2 more as we would play all the remaining teams in the wild card hunt. Still don't control our own destiny here.

3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

Assuming we win out, we would still be in a 3 way tie here with Denver and Jacksonville.

4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.

I'm not even going to try to figure this one out.

Either way, still some sorting out to do before the Phins control their own destiny.

I believe the same Patrick. And Welcome back Armando. Glad to see you are at it again.
Since Miami plays 4 teams that are either in direct competition for a wild card birth or a division title, they are in a unique position to dictate their own future. I'm talking about the Steelers, Texans, Jaguars and Patriots. And several teams in the wild card race still have to play each other too. It will be interesting to see how well the Patriots do against the Saints.
The Steelers have to play the Ravens, (also in contention)twice. The Jags have to play the Texans. The Texans and Jags have to play the Colts again too. This should effectively eliminate some of these competitors.
Denver's schedule includes the Giants, the Colts and the Eagles, so they aren't a shoe in.
Miami has been improving defensively against the pass though they have allowed more rushing yards as of late. They have been allowing fewer touchdowns over the last few games.
They still have a potent running attack (in the top 5) and their passing statistics show their average gain per completion is going up with Henne's strong arm. The receivers did just fine last Thursday, and their new players are making a noticable impact, too.
Miami has shown they can play with the best teams and are capable of scoring enough points to win. (11th in score in the NFL). I like their chances for a playoff berth. Every team has been dealing with key injuries but Miami seems to prep and cross train better than most coaching staffs. Go Dolphins!

Same old same old - take care of your division and you are probably in if not by winning your own division vis a vis handing your division rivals losses then at least by having a better conference record than your wild card rivals all things being equal.

The Pats are still a catchable 2 games ahead w/ a matchup looming. Since the only common division opponent is Buffalo and I dont see Miami or the Pats losing to the Bills, I think Miami realistically needs to go 5-1 with a win over the Pats to to get the AFC East title. Thats a tall order unless the Pats get upset somewhere down the stretch. There is a very thin wildcard margin this year just like last.
The easiest way is just 1. win 2. win 3. win 4. win 5. win 6. win. Then win 3 -4 more games and you are SB champion.
That should do it ... if not....

TO BREAK A TIE FOR THE WILD-CARD TEAM
If it is necessary to break ties to determine the two Wild-Card clubs from each conference, the following steps will be taken.
1. If the tied clubs are from the same division, apply division tie breaker.
2. If the tied clubs are from different divisions, apply the following steps.

Two Clubs
1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
4. Strength of victory.
5. Strength of schedule.
6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
8. Best net points in conference games.
9. Best net points in all games.
10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
11. Coin toss.


Three or More Clubs
(Note: If two clubs remain tied after third or other clubs are eliminated, tie breaker reverts to step 1 of applicable two-club format.)
1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the three Wild-Card participants.
2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
5. Strength of victory.
6. Strength of schedule.
7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
9. Best net points in conference games.
10. Best net points in all games.
11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
12. Coin toss.

If it coomes down to the final weekend again, I'll gladly take it. Along w/ a valium.

hopefully these Parcells-cleveland rumors are just that. Hope the big guy sticks around for at least a couple more seasons/drafts.

the foundation should should be solid from there.

GO FINNSS!!!

Road wins aren't always easy to come by. Just ask the Steelers and Begals fans.
Don't underestimate individual pride and momentum that can be created with the home crowd.
The Phins should go out and take care of business. But in this league, there are few locks and Miami is a young team that still has much to prove.

I think first things first. We need to beat the Bills.

I also think it is important to point out that EVERY team in the AFC has at least 3 losses at this point except for Indy (0) and Jacksonville (2) -- this includes New England. Dolphins final six games are all against AFC teams -- so, I think the Phins control their destiny. Given this fact, I think 10 wins will be enough for the playoffs given wins over Jacksonville (important) and Houston or Pittsburgh. If we beat the Bills and the Patriots, I think we can still have one additional loss and might even win the division.

Yeah, agree with Cid and Martin, Armando. What games were you watching? Every game last year was pretty much settled by less than a touchdown and came down to the wire. We hardly "played down" to those teams' level. Sounds a lot like this year. Only thing different is this year we are consistently putting up more than 20 points/game. I don't think we are at a level yet to be thought of as playing down to anyone. Now in a year or 2...maybe. Also agree with ust focusing on the bills...trap game. Just look at the Cinci/Oakland game or Pitt/Kansas game. It can happen.

A tough road lies ahead. We can only afford one loss if we wish to remain in the hunt. We can do this... it is our destiny!

We struggled more with the"weaklings" of the league than the "challenging" opponents.Last week against Tampa was more nerve racking than against NE.I don't think we should overlook Buffalo but we shouldn't go overboard preparing for the Titans or Jags either.A few weeks ago they were the laughingstock of the league.The patriots can be beat.We have split the series the last few seasons,and if the Saints beat them next week &Miami sweeps Buffalo we are a game away.As for the Steelers,they just lost to the Chiefs.I am still laughing and Cinncy losing to the Raiders.I know we have to focus on the Bills first,but some of our remaining opponents don't seem as daunting.Anyway, Go Fins!

Ricky, If the Dolphins somehow won out they would be guaranteed a 6 seed no matter what any other team does. First, they would possess tiebreakers over JAX, PIT, and HOU with head to head wins. Secondly, their conference record would necessarily be better than Baltimore's if they managed to win out. Now, IF the Pats managed to lose on MNF to the Saints, AND the Phins somehow won out, THEN the Dolphins would be division champs at 11-5 and possess the tiebreaker over the Pats with a better division record.
Obviously, the likelihood of winning 6 more games in a row is a low. I'm just setting the record straight regarding tiebreakers.

Armando couldn't be more wrong on one thing: we are one of the worst teams at playing to the level of the competition. Look how many games we have one by more than one score in this era. And all those crappy teams we beat, I can't remember one in two effin years that we didn't either win on a fourth quarter drive or stop teres. Barely. And we lost to the colts and the saints because we don't blow teams out, we let teams back in. It's a problem.

Jesus are you guys acting like dummies on purpose?

LOOK:

We have a game against the Pats...we MUST WIN that game.

Other than that, all we need is the Pats to lose ONE game. (Which could come as early as this next week as they play the Saints)

At that point we are tied but due to division record (because the Pats will have lost to us AND the Jets this season making them 4-2 while the FINS would be 5-1), so the FINS WIN the AFC East crown.

PERIOD. How is that hard to understand?

To set the record straight, we are in total control of our playoff destiny right now. If we managed to win our final six games, we are guaranteed to at least be the 6th seed in the AFC playoffs. This is so for two reasons. First, we would possess head to head tiebreakers over JAX, HOU, and PIT. Second, we would possess a better conference record than BAL. There is no guarantee that we seeded higher then Denver though.
More importantly, IF the Pats lose on MNF to the Saints, but we win all of our games, than we would be AFC Champs again at 11-5 with a better division record than the Pats.
Now, I don't expect us to win ALL of our remaining games; but I just wanted to set the record straight that we do control our playoff destiny right now!

Has anyone watched the Rex Ryan post-interview on nfl.com? Do you remember how Rexy was not going to go kiss Belechik's super bowl rings? This interview explains why. Because Rexy found something bigger and better to kiss...Belechik's ass. It is hilarious. The entire talk is NE this and NE that.

John , are you acting like dummy on purpose ? The season doesn't end after the NE game. There are more games to be played and some of the posters are looking at ALL scenarios in case miami loses a game or two afterwards and ne wins out . Hence the wild card scenarios.

Armando,

Questions coming into the season and how they are playing out-

Penningntons arm strength and durability going forward
Answer- Out for season

Browns ability to stay healthy-
Answer- Out for season

Jason Fergeson's ability to play a full season at his age-
Answer- Probably out for the season

Jake Grove a much needed improvement at Center-
Answer- Absolutely

Tedd Ginn would establish himself a s #1 receiver and deep threat-
Answer- Not reliable and a big disapointment

Ricky Williams at 32-
Answer- He's not human

Tight End position-
Answer- No clear TE at this time (hurting this team)

Chad Henne if needed this year-
Answer- looks to be a capable NFL starter for the future. Not a Manning or Favre or Rivers but top of the next tier down.

Would Joey Porter continue his sack assaullt of last year-
Answer- Not so far but I feel he was playing hurt?

Jason Taylor-
Answer- slow start but definetly a good pick up, and heck he is a Dolphin for life.

Secondary-
Answer-Rookies definetly stepping up. Safety play has been a disapointment Gebril Wilson started slow but may be improving. Shout out to Nate Jones.

Matt Roth-
Answer- Not sure about this guy but plays mean and with an attitude. Question his commitment to the team though?

Wildacat-
Answer- has its place for sure and could be deadly with a decent passing game to compliment it. Looks like the O'line likes the commitment to run and the extra blockers.

Pat White-
Answer- Huge question there but I am pulling for him. I expect we will see some excitment there.

Receivers drafted-
Answer- Huge disapointment so far. Would like to see Turner get an opportunity as the weather gets bad.

Draft-
Answer- Usually takes a few years but I like what I see

Any Opinions?

Go Phins!

You are right NJ PHIN. The Wild card scenarios are very intriguing + very unknown right now because these four teams all play each other one time over the last 6 weeks: Miami, New England, Jacksonville, and Houston. And of course, MIA will play PIT to close the season. Now, it's still possible that we lose to the Pats, but get 10 wins, and hold tiebreakers over JAX, HOU, and PITT; but then we need each of those teams to lose one of their other games as well.

Oh, I forgot to point out that JAX and HOU still play the Colts one more time, and that PIT has to play BAL twice {I'd root for a split there} before they play us. So it is conceivable that 10 wins could be enough for the Dolphins (with the only loss being to the Pats).

please fellas, no tiebreaker analysis yet...let's win a few more and then okay...

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