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Clearing out the notebook: Friday edition

The Dolphins have two home games remaining and that should be a big deal because Baltimore, for example, plays only one more home game. And playing at home is supposed to be better than playing on the road.

Except this year the Dolphins haven't exactly done a great job of protecting their house. They're 3-3 in six games at home and would have to win their final two games at home to merely tie the 5-3 home mark they posted last year.

So how would coach Joe Philbin grade Miami's play at home this year?

"About 3-3.  Seriously, we have to play better," Philbin said. "I think the fans have gotten their money’s worth in terms of excitement in relation to the games have gone down to, literally all six games have been almost to the last play of the game if I’m not mistaken.  We have to do better, we have to do better."

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Do you recall the 2011 season-opener? The Patriots threw for 500 yards. They had a 99-yard pass play from Tom Brady to Wes Welker. They won the game 38-24.

Nolan Carroll remembers that game.

I talked to Carroll about that game this week. If you recall, both Vontae Davis and Sean Smith suffered cramps that night. Carroll had to substitute in for both players.

And as if on cue, the moment he came in the game, Tom Brady went to work on him. Three consecutive passes to Carroll's side went for completions including a TD pass. I asked Carroll if he agreed that he got picked on that night?

"Yes," he said.

Well, earlier this year, the Dolphins managed Dimitri Patterson's groin injury in such a way that he was able to start the October game at New England. And Patterson played well. But he had to come out in the second half for a series and when that happened, Carroll came in the game.

Carroll had started five previous games in Patterson's place but, again, as soon as he entered the game, Tom Brady went after him. And the Patriots connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass in which Brady went to Aaron Dobson who was matched out left against ... Nolan Carroll.

Carroll is a starting cornerback the rest of the season apparently with Patterson now on injured reserve. Is he worried Brady is going to be picking on him Sunday as has happened in the past?

"That doesn't worry me," Carroll said. "What happened years ago has no affect on me. I'm a different player than I was then. This is a new game."

Carroll better be ready because the Patriots seemingly always know where he is.

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The Dolphins had no answer for covering Darren Sproles out of the backfield the fourth week of the season when they played New Orleans.

Well, on Sunday they face Shane Vereen (who missed the first meeting between Miami and New England due to his wrist injury) and he is a defacto wide receiver coming out of the backfield -- a matchup nightmare for linebackers.

Vereen has been active only five games but already he leads all NFL running backs with 74.6 yard per game receiving average. He has 40 catches for 373 yards. Last week he caught 12 passes for 153 yards against Cleveland.

Phillip Wheeler or Jimmy Wilson better bring their A-game on Sunday.

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I hate doing playoff projections, but I feel the need to clear up some confusion that Thursday night's San Diego victory over the Denver Broncos may have caused.

Multiple people on my twitter timeline (Follow me @ArmandoSalguero) were saying that if the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers all end up with the same record, the fact the Chargers enter the scenario and turn it into a three-team race erases Baltimore's current edge over Miami built by a head-to-head victory.

Not necessarily true.

If for example, the three teams finish 9-7 and are tied for the sixth and final playoff seed, the Ravens would still be the qualifying team if the one loss they suffer is this weekend to NFC opponent Detroit. In other words, the Ravens could lose to Detroit but if they beat two AFC opponents -- New England and Cincinnati -- they would still be the 9-7 team getting in the playoffs.

If, however, the Ravens beat Detroit but lose to either New England or the Bengals, they would be 9-7 but the 9-7 Dolphins would be getting in the playoffs ahead of them, assuming the Chargers are also 9-7. (If the Chargers drop off, the Ravens again win out over Miami based on head-to-head meetings).

Bottom line: The Ravens can obviously build a seemingly hefty lead in the playoff chase against the Dolphins and Chargers if they win this weekend while the Dolphins lose to the Patriots. But if the Dolphins recover the final two weeks of the season, and the Chargers keep winning, and the Ravens stumble in one of their two remaining games against AFC opponents, the Dolphins would jump ahead of Baltimore.

If we're talking teams going 8-8 that's a whole different formula that might involve other teams and it's too early for that now. 

Glad I made that totally clear for you.

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The Dolphins have lost seven in a row to the Patriots. I picked Miami to win on Sunday. I think the loss of Rob Gronkowski is devestating to New England's offense. But looking at the last meeting, Gronkowski caught only two passes for 27 yards. I worry that Aqib Talib did not play and Brady threw for only 116 yards, had a 69.5 QB rating and the Patriots still won by 10 points.

Comments

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Sam i am

While i agree that the AFC is flawed for the most part, i just see the Dolphins as having to many question marks. They have more flaws than Denver and N.E and this season has been a roller coaster of inconsistancy. Super bowl calibre teams dont lose to Buffalo at home with a practice squad QB. Nor do they lose to a Tampa team winless at the time. Furthermore all the collapses like in the Carolina game and first N.E game dont happen to teams on a super bowl level. While i think the Dolphins are headed in the right direction i think they are still a year away.

sam sadly half of stadium will be pats fans

Posted by: budtki | December 13, 2013 at 07:13 AM

HOPE SO, WE NEED TO STRIP BRADY A COUPLE TIMES THIS GAME.

WE NEED TO BE AT LEAST +2 IN TURNOVER MARGIN SUNDAY,

Posted by: dolfan29 | December 13, 2013 at 12:38 PM

I say I love our chances in the FLAWED AFC because we seem to be slowly building up to laying our BEST FOOTBALL of the season. While Denver has seemed to peak too early.

The Pats, outside of Tom Brady have nearly as many question marks, plus critical injuries( Wilfork/Gronk).

Love our chances for these two reasons. we are about as good as the rest of the pack. A victory over the Pats would be a HUGE CONFIDENCE BOOST should we play them again in the playoffs.

That's the fun with these AFC playoffs. EVERYONE looks beatable.

sam lets stick to reality, we beat a very bad jets team and squeaked by a 5-8 pitt team. lets not get ahead of ourselves

I'd say if we made the playoffs, we would ahve about a 20% chance of winning the AFC. A puncher's chance...

I actually think Cincinnati is the best team in the conference but they also are not unbeatable.

WE NEED TO SHUT DOWN SHANE VEREEN SUNDAY.

dolfan29, Also if we go back and take a look, we most likely find the 2008/2012 SB Giants lost to some teams they absolutely had NO BUSINESS losing to.

It matters most how well a team is playing at the end when reaching the playoffs, not at the beginning.

If beginning and middle play matter most, the NFL could have cancelled the rest of the season and HANDED DENVER the SB TROPHY.

Sam is right about one thing, the team that hits their stride near the end of the year will be the most dangerous.

The last two super bowl champions - NYG and the Ravens were both 25 to 30-1 shots to win the super bowl in their respective years.

uh, Sam.....a little fyi....most stadiums around the league, in every sport, empty out quickly/early if the home team gets behind by a good bit....that aint just in Miami

Yes we are playing some solid football, but look at the teams we have beaten recently. A sad Jets team that a top college program could beat and a less than stellar pittsburgh team that came within an inch of a miracle win. Teams playing their best football dont allow that play to even occur. Once upon a time we were 3-0 and everyone was talking superbowl. Too many times ive been crushed by these Dolphins. Im a die hard through and through but need to see them finally beat the Pats when things are on the line. No more excuses. With all the injuries the pats have, Miami should win this game by 10 atleast

mark cincy is close to unbeatable at home. but on road arent anything special. like almost always one of the 2 teams with a bye and homefield will go to sb sticking to my pick i made in aug, seattle kills denver in sb

dusty....we're an average team, thats all.....mid pack, just as the standings show....disappointing if we remain there by season's end, but wouldnt be too surprising--but there's been some progress this year I think....nice to play relevant games in December at least, for the second year in a row--not a big success I agree, but its better than we had for the few years prior

Then hat would you guys make of a Denver team that loss to a San Diego team, WE BEAT?

Since you guys have prognosis we beat nobody teams. Can not we say Denver losing to a nobody team(San Diego) we beat, means they are now PLAYING DOWN TO OUR LEVEL?

PROGNOSIS' can not be half complete, they must be followed through 100%. Beat the Pats Sunday, then can not we be included amongst the teams with a fighter's chance, once in the playoffs, to win it all?

Dusty-agree, watching sproles was frustrating and vareeen leeds the league for RB in receiving yards/game. Just hoping game plan is foucced on him as WR don’t scare me. Mind you patriots ran on us in the second half last game as most of their 152 yards came in second half. I think Starks,Vernon, odrick and Solia will take control of the line this gam


The last two super bowl champions - NYG and the Ravens were both 25 to 30-1 shots to win the super bowl in their respective years.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | December 13, 2013 at 12:51 PM

EXACTLY! Beat the PATS, then BILLS/JETS, we ride a 5 GAME WIN STREAK into the playoffs.

In this FLAWED FIELD anything could happen from there.

MIT.

Yes i agree that a hot team can ride it all the way to the superbowl, but are we hot or just lucky. Hot teams and good teams put bad teams away early. Only one game have we shown the ability to do this. A jets team that most college teams could beat. We have all seen the Dolphins rise up, only to fall at the worse times over the years. I hope as much as anyone this team catches fire and makes the big dance but a two game winning streak isnt enough to have me call them hot


MIT.

Yes i agree that a hot team can ride it all the way to the superbowl, but are we hot or just lucky.

Posted by: dolfan29 | December 13, 2013 at 12:58 PM


Exactly what these last 3 games are all about. Still, you need to be a lot hot and a little lucky.

Proof of this is:

1. NYG 2008 Ball sticks to Tyree's helmet
2. NYG 2012 Absolute perfect Eli sideline pass winning drive.

D29, I don't think we are a lucky team by any stretch. I also don't think we are that "hot" team riding into the playoffs yet either. There is a lot to be determined between now and the end of week 17. We are solidly entrenched in the mix, that's all right now. But everyhting is in front of us and starting to line up and we need to take advantage of it.

I do think our defense is getting better.

I do think Tannehill is trending up and playing his best ball of the year.

The pats are there for the taking if we play our best game.

On Sunday night, we will know if we are the "hot" team going into the next part of the stretch drive or if we are a team that will ahve to depend on other to beat baltimore to get an invitation to the final tournament.

sam difference is denver has lost 3 games only, 6 for us. huge difference. no team wins every game. currently we are a mediocre 7-6 team on the outside of the playoffs

Posted by: dolfan29 | December 13, 2013 at 12:52 PM

sad Jests team beat the Pats.

Yeah guys, anythingn is possible but can we wait until at least Sunday night to define what this team is and what they are capable of?

Sunday will tell us a lot.

More than the last two games anyway...

Sam i am

Im not saying the dolphins cant catch the same fire of the giants in 2008 or the ravens of last year. I just think you are getting ahead of yourself when calling the dolphins a hot football team. It took the panthers having an 8 game winning streak before people really took notice and called them hot. we have won two games. We still have to play and win at home against N.E and a tough road game at buffalo where things have never come easy. All im saying is this dolphins team is hardly hot after beating two below 500 weak teams.

wally its december now. early season history. heck we lost to tampa not long ago

agree dolfan, if being hot means 2 wins over bad teams then we have fallen further than i thought.

wallyfin.

Yes the Jets did beat the pats. We have lost to them 7 in a row. So are you saying the Jets are better than Miami because they beat N.E where we havnt. Again a hot team is defined as beating everyone in their path. WE beat a bad jets team, but lose to N.E this weekend are we still hot?. I just marvel at all the chatter. I think Mark In Toronto had it pegged correctly. We are in the mix for a playoff spot. That is all

NO, i said the jets can beat them so can we.


sam difference is denver has lost 3 games only, 6 for us. huge difference. no team wins every game. currently we are a mediocre 7-6 team on the outside of the playoffs

Posted by: dusty bottoms | December 13, 2013 at 01:05 PM

After looking INVINCBLE earlier in the season, Denver is 3-2 in their last 5 games. So in the last 5, Denver's gone from invincible to mere mortal.

Add in with this, Peyton Manning historically does not have the most STERLING PLAYOFF RESUME either.

2 SB appearances in 16 SEASONS, winning one, isn't anything to instill fear into anyone. Peyton's been BEATABLE his entire career come playoff time.

As exhibited last season against the wildcard Ravens after having homefield advantage. In 16 Seasons, Manning only has 1 more SB appearance than Marino. Good thing for him he won one, or he would simply be "Dan Marino".

sam manning chokes all the time, we already know this. seattle will hammer them in super bowl.

We can beat anybody for that matter, but you used the jets as an example. Bad teams beat good teams from time to time, but doesnt change the fact of our recent history against the patriots. What surprises me is now the fan base is ready to book the super bowl after winning two games against bad teams. Lets make the playoffs first before we all meet at Met life stadium

Teams trend up and down...we are trending up, therefore some of us feel that qualifies as "hot".

What do the Pats, Fins & Ravens all have in common? They all won on the last play of the game on Sunday.

What if Antonio Brown stays in bounds and scores? This blog would be on fire! Furthermore, what if the Pats & Ravens lost and we still won? Superbowl chatter would be off the charts.

Look, were all excited to be in the mix and some of us are more excited than others...it sure beats the alternative that would surely be present if Brown stayed in bounds.

not me dolfan, reality tells me miami will probaly loae to pats and then again at bills. finish up 8-8. another pointless year. but my hope is they finally get over the mountain and press on by winning these games. would i predict it, no way

You guys misunderstand by saying "I'm getting ahead of myself". I'm not. I'm simply proposing the implications of a victory over the Pats, Jet/Bills, then a FLAWED AFC playoff field. Nothing more, nothing less.

Simply proposing how HUGE a victory over the PATS(the here and now)could be. Comprende ahora mi amigos?

NHFINSFAN

Yes excitement is healthy and great to feel. So are we trending up because we beat a horrid jets team and a awful pittsburgh team that we hardly dominated. Trending up is what Carolina did for 8 games. During that stretch they beat San Fran on the road and beat a Patriots team that rarely loses on monday night. I will be the first to call this team hot and trending up if they beat the pats. trendy up and hot includes beating relivant teams. not teams who are already looking towards the draft

I'm with you Sam...I am. No really I am.

Yes, Sam we can agree there, if we can win these last three then it's watch out world, no doubt!


sam manning chokes all the time, we already know this. seattle will hammer them in super bowl.

Posted by: dusty bottoms | December 13, 2013 at 01:28 PM

EXACTLY why I say this AFC playoff field is SO FLAWED. It's no GIVEN Manning makes it to the SB without tickets to the game.

Take away the SB he won and that appearance, Manning is merely DAN MARINO. I have HUGE DOUBTS of Manning going to the SB. I mean, how many thought he would be there last year?

Exactly what Irsay was talking about in those tweets he was forced to backtrack on.

In all fairness the two games against the jets and Steelers, they were battling for their lives - not exactly out of it when we got them. We just left them out of it.

Still hate how they were unprepared for the lateral show. Call the bloody timeout next time!

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | December 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Disagree here!! When your D gets you the ball with a 3 point lead and still a little over 2:30 Minutes on the board and your playing a top-10 NFL passer in Big Ben you go for the kill shot!! I was hoping like in the week-3 win over Atl. that Tannehill would audible out of the run play with Pitt. selling out with 8 in the box. Still a to young to have the sack to override his Coach, so he gets a pass but Philbin doesn't!!

This H.C. calls it safe/scared looking to simply play not to lose instead of instilling the killer instinct in his team of going for the jugular when the opportunity arises. We've all seen Rothlisberger in that same scenario show his huge arm gunning the ball 60-plus hitting improbable plays late in big games. The AFC Title game Vs. the Jets in 2010 comes to mind! Last Yr. Flacco (comparable arm) in Denver also comes to mind. My point is you don't leave a minute plus on the clock protecting a 6 point lead Vs. ELITE QB's, period end of story!!

I hated watching those 3 straight runs to pad a 3 point lead giving Pitt. any time for last sec. heroics. Refusal to throw caution to the wind has been the difference in winning Vs. Tampa, Buffalo, Baltimore and Car. Think about those games with us holding less than a 7 point lead and how we played in our last couple of possessions with a D that has been suspect in games late and you have the difference between potentially 9 to 11 wins at this point compared to were we are.

Last night the NFL Net. panel was making this argument for S.D. which I felt applied to us more than the Bolts in games given away! That part of it falls on Coaching. The stud Coach plays for the winning kill shot. Philbin wears his Big Boy pants with panties underneath as far as I'm concerned. I was more impressed with McCoy last night to be honest in his clock management, play calling and D calls going man coverage on Manning (gambling and winning) I believe players feed off it as it trickles down the roster and our team doesn't possess that mindset, yet!

true mark and jets arent out of it yet. jets win out they would be ahead of miami with tie breaker

Sam i am

Not looking to burst bubbles or saying your punching the ticket to the superbowl, but any talk of that is unfounded. If this team has shown anything over the years it that it loses to teams it should beat, play average teams close and lose in bizarre fashion to elite teams. All im saying is that two wins over less than mediocre talent and record doesnt all of a sudden put the dolphins in super bowl discussion

Dusty, im with you Pats win by 3, we lose to the Bills for some odd reason, win vs Jets finish 8 and 8. I hope this isnt teue but its what my guts tell me

dolfan29...well we beat CIN, San Diego & Pitt, all quality wins. Jets were pure domination and the Carolina game was very close...woulda, shoulda, coulda.

Tampa...don't even get me started on that game.

So to your point, are we blazing hot? no.
Are we winning games that matter (CIN/SAN/PIT) I say yes.


seen it to many times truth. bills game scares me big time.

Also guys. Remember that hot teams dont piss away home games and lose at home. we are 3-3 at home. hardly a team that should be talked about with the seattle's or denver's of the world. If we lose to the pats and beat the jets were only 500 at home. Teams of that nature trend in only one direction. Average and home for the superbowl

fins go 2-1 they make playoffs. ravens def arent winning 2 of 3 at det, pats, at cincy so to me the at bills game will tell the tale. and it scares the heck out of me

One thing we know for sure is all the remaining games will be close prob decided by 10 pts or less.

yeah i agree pats favored by 2

Their will be lots of Pats fans there

NH FINFAN

I will say that cincy was a quality win. But how did we follow that up with 11 days to prepare. A loss to winless Tampa. This is my point. Superbowl calibre teams and hot teams dont do that. I wouldnt call wins against SD and PITT quality wins. Pitt is 5-8. SD is average and we had them at home and should dominate them. Went down to the final play. All season long up and down. On your last point. All 16 games matter and too many times we have pissed away too many games.

Philibin is soooo clueless. Fans get their money's worth when the team win games. Not making games close. Get rid of this moron and Ireland. Ross and his goons think that dolfans are so naive. They think that making a splash in free agency and in the draft is enough to fill the stadium. Wins fill stadiums and bring in revenue.

Well this is what we all wanted meaninful december games. Its been a while since we had some. Cmon Tannehill show out on us!

Does anyone know if Pouncey visited Hernandez in jail after he gave his grand jury testimony yesterday?

Now that would be a story...

dusty, they will beat the bills. It's going to be a sea of orange for taht game. Bills fans have packed it in and won't brave the cold on that Sunday. Tickets are available everywhere and I obtianed by club seats (choice club seats by the way - heated and most important, in seat beverage service) for below cost from scalpers. Won't eactly be an intimidating environment and they already got a taste of winter ball last week. Tannehill's cherry is popped. As long as we don't get snow in the philly/det scale, we will be fine.

BUT, we will absolutely have to be playing CLEARLY our BEST FOOTBALL of the ENTIRE season. This is clearly a FLAWED AFC playoff field.

Posted by: Sam I Am | December 13, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Anything is possible but it would require us going on the road and winning 3 straight Playoff games and as much as I want to believe I don't think this team possess the mindset for that and when I say team I refer directly to the Coaching staff and their conservative play calling late in games to go with some head scratching clock management in the crunch. I posted my very reasons for thinking this way in a post just a few minutes ago.

dusty, where you getting your spreads? I checked this monring and it says PK

Mark we thoughts there were going to be sure fire wins against the Bills amd there 3rd QB and Tampa and a rookie QB you should know by now its really up in the air. I mean lose at home against the Bills was utterly ridicoulous

mark i bet through bovada, just looked. pats -1.5 now

hmm, other houses are calling pick. ur getting a good spread if you want Miami.

Mark In Toronto

How can you be so certain of a victory over the Bills. Ive been to many games at Ralph Wilson stadium and many in December with Miami in a hostel environment. Nothing has ever come easy for the dolphins there and poor weather will only compound that. Its still a divisional game and Buffalo im sure would love to put Miami out of the playoffs with them. Remember we did lose to Thad Lewis bills in our house so losing at the Ralph wouldnt surprise me. I will agree on the sea of fins fans there, but will it be enough

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