Yeah But What If The Dolphins Get One More Shot At The Patriots In The Playoffs?
There is absolutely no realistic reason to believe that the Miami Dolphins could go to New England on January 14th and beat the Patriots at home in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs to make it to the AFC Championship game.
First of all, and most importantly, the Dolphins would have to go on the road and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round just to earn the trip to Foxboro. That's a tall task for any sixth-seed, let alone one that is starting its backup quarterback.
As improved as the Dolphins offense is this year, a win would require Matt Moore, Jay Ajayi and Jarvis Landry to out-duel Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown on their home turf. Impossible? No. Likely? Absolutely not.
For the sake of argument though, let's say the Dolphins do pull out a win in Pittsburgh. After that upset they'd have to travel to Gillette Stadium in the middle of January to play a far more rested Patriots team that just destroyed them 35-14 in Miami.
The Dolphins couldn't manage to beat the Patriots in Foxboro earlier in the season when the weather was still pleasant and Tom Brady was still suspended. Now in the dead of winter, they'd have to win their first road game against Brady in ten full years; and again, this would have to involve Matt Moore either outplaying Brady or the NFL's best scoring defense completely crapping the bed.
This is all not to mention the fact that Belichick will be head coaching in his 33rd playoff game, while Adam Gase will be at the helm of a postseason game for the very first time. Sure, Belichick has been out-coached before, however never by a rookie head coach in the playoffs.
In fact this regular season may be one of Belichick's crowning achievements as a head coach. The idea that Gase could come into his stadium and out-coach him is almost laughable.
Crazier things have happened. Not often, and certainly not with any level of predictability, but crazier things have happened. If any David is going to take down New England's Goliath simply via pure will and determination, it's the Miami Dolphins.
Division rivals are always the scariest postseason opponents. When the New York Jets went to New England and beat the Patriots in the divisional round of the 2010 playoffs, the Patriots were the number one seed and had finished the regular season at 14-2. Meanwhile the 11-5 Jets' starting offense was lackluster at best and was led by an underwhelming Mark Sanchez.
Still, the Jets came in breathing fire and upset the odds-on Super Bowl favorites at a time when they were the best home team in the NFL.
The Dolphins may not have anywhere near the defense that the 2010 Jets team had, but there is no doubt they have a burning dislike for the Patriots that could help them transcend the inferiority of their roster. We saw them scrap with the Pats the entire game during Week 17, and while some of their jawing was ill-advised, it is very reminiscent of the attitude that Jets team had.
If Gase could harness that energy and prevent his team from boiling over and making costly mistakes, it is the exact kind of thing that could rattle the Patriots just enough to give the Dolphins a fighting chance.
This almost no shot that any of this happens.
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