The Dolphins entered the season with high expectations, thanks to a 10-win season in 2020. A Week One win at New England validated the belief that Miami could make a real run.
Then came seven straight losses, sparking talk of major changes after the 2021 campaign ends. Sunday’s win over the Texans meant nothing; a blowout loss to Baltimore certainly was coming.
And then it didn’t. With coach Brian Flores apparently determined to avoid a repeat of the 59-10 loss to the Ravens in the first game of his career, the Dolphins drew up a blitz-heavy, go-for-broke effort to slow the Ravens down. It worked.
So where are the Dolphins in the aftermath of their most impressive performance of the year? The schedule lines up favorably through Christmas.
After the mini-bye following Thursday night’s win, the Dolphins visit the Jets. Then, the team literally will be home for the holidays. From Thanksgiving week through the day after Christmas, they’ll never leave town.
Two home games — Panthers and Giants — followed by a bye and a visit from the Jets. If (and given this nuttiest of NFL seasons it’s a big if) the Dolphins can win the next four, they’ll enter a Week 16 Monday night game at New Orleans at 7-7. Yes, a final stretch of Saints, Titans, and Patriots could see 7-7 become 7-10 But it doesn’t matter how things end. What matters is that the Dolphins have a chance to be relevant past Thanksgiving. The more teams that fall into this category, the better off the NFL is.
Five days ago, the Dolphins had no chance to be relevant past Thanksgiving. By tripling in four days their entire 2021 win total through eight games, they now can be.
It continues in nine days, with the last road trip before five weeks of hunkering down at home for a chance to make an unlikely assault on the No. 7 seed.