Week 16 Dolphins vs Packers
The Miami Dolphins will host Green Bay in Week 16. Then the Patriots in Foxborough and the Jets in Miami to close out the season. If they beat Green Bay they can control their own fate against the two teams vying to steal their playoff spot. But if not, things could get dicey and Miami fans will be chewing their nails for two weeks in a row.
Dolphins Week 16
The Miami Dolphins will be home for Christmas. So, hopefully, they will be feasting at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami returns to the Rock after three weeks of losing road games. Mike McDaniel will be looking to get his team back in gear as the postseason approaches. There are three games left to play. Winning out in order to claim the most advantageous playoff position is the best route. Yet, even if they lose to the Packers in week 16, the Dolphins can clinch a playoff spot by beating both the Jets and Patriots.
Miami’s loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 15 likely cost them the AFC East title. Buffalo is now three games clear with just three games left to play. While it’s still mathematically possible, Miami will now be competing for a wildcard spot. Jostling with the Jets, Chargers, Patriots and Ravens for the best possible seeding.
Going into their Christmas Day home game against the Green Bay Packers, Miami sit in the seventh and final spot in the AFC playoff picture. Both the New York Jets and the New England Patriots are right on the tail of the Dolphins, who now can’t afford to slip up in the three remaining games.
Need the Mojo Back
The Miami Dolphins have been phenomenal for the majority of the 2022 campaign. A disappointing layover on the west coast derailed a promising stretch and left the Dolphins licking their wounds as they traveled back east. The schedule found them on a three-game road stretch that ended in Buffalo, New York facing the conference’s number one outfit in the snow. Having lost the first two, trying to steal the stamp in the W column from the Bills became more essential than simply advantageous.
From a fans perspective, confidence had taken a blow after witnessing two poor performances in back to back weeks against both the San Francisco 49ers and the LA Chargers, but Miami fought back in tough conditions against a very good Bills team. They proved that they can dance under the lights with the league’s best, and only a field goal separated the two sides as the clock struck zero.
Respect Earned in a Loss
Miami fought a great fight on the road against the Bills, and their performance rebounded after slacking in previous weeks. That said, a loss is still a loss, and Miami’s record has been bloodied in recent weeks falling from the glory of an 8-3 season to a far less confident 8-6. The Dolphins are now in a backstreet brawl with both the Jets AND the Patriots as they scratch and claw with one another for one of just three wildcard spots. So with both of those teams on the calendar to close out the season, losing to Green Bay is simply not an option on Christmas Day.
Despite some of the most high-caliber offensive football, Miami fans have seen in many years, Miami still finds themselves jostling for position. Unfortunately a battered and bruised defense has resulted in depth being called into action for practically the entire season, and at times that has proved fatal.
Down To The Bones In The Secondary
Justin Bethel lost Dawson Knox in the end zone for a Buffalo touchdown. I spotted Verone McKinley taking a bad angle on Josh Allen during his biggest scrambling run of the game. McKinley was an undrafted free agent this offseason. I really liked the value of getting him. He plays hard. He’s versatile and he’s a former teammate of Jevon Holland at Oregon. He can provide some support and if he develops well. One day he might challenge for a spot in the lineup more regularly. But he’s not ready to be dependable on the big stage in a game so crucial to the Dolphins season.
None of that is McKinley’s fault either. He needs time to develop in the pros just like everybody else. The secondary is just shot to bits and these guys are playing far more snaps as a result of that. Byron Jones is now a lost cause and I wonder if we’ll ever see him play in a Dolphins uniform again. I highly doubt we see him this season after what has been a dragged-out narrative about his health since Week 1.
Nik Needham suffered a season-ending injury, Brandon Jones suffered a season-ending injury, and the young guys and depth have been forced in for the majority of the season. This area of our defense is getting exposed. Kader Kohou and Noah Igbinoghene have had their moments and lapses in judgment. But, I would actually commend them both on the job they’ve done filling in this year.
The lack of depth and forced playing time for Noah in particular is likely the best thing to ever happen in his career. He’s had to learn, grow and become somebody who holds up his end of the deal in pass protection, and largely I believe he’s answered that call.
Green Bay on Christmas Day And Zero Room for Error
Miami cannot lose this game. Four losses in a row followed by wins for either the Jets or the Patriots or insufferably, both, would half sink Miami and give them a very real chance of missing the playoffs.
Miami needs to take the positive performance from the Buffalo game and channel it into a strong home win to reset the momentum of their season.
Fortunately, Green Bay’s main offensive strength this season has been their run game. When the passing game has struggled, which it has intermittently all season, they go to the run game. They will run the ball on you all afternoon if they can. Aaron Rodgers loves to find both of those guys with quick passes out of the backfield. Which is something that could really kill the Dolphins if they are not prepared.
Something I spotted against the Bills was Miami’s hesitance to come up and blow those plays up. Our young corners are so hellbent on not giving up a big play or losing their assignment that the reaction to a quick swing out to the running back was far too slow. They’ll need to be a lot better at covering that against Aaron Rodgers and his backs.
On the other side, Tua Tagovailoa’s Pro Bowl snub will hopefully fuel him. He needs to go out and once again prove he is the franchise QB.
In the five-game win streak when Tua return from injury, he completed 60% of his passes or more in all five games. The offense was clicking with three 70+ percentage games thrown into that mix. But in the last three losses, Tua has completed less than 60% in all three games.
They need to get back to what they’re good at and Tua needs to either find his check-down options. When Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are covered find a hot option.
Running the Ball
Raheem Mostert had his best game in a Dolphins jersey up in Buffalo. Carrying the football 17 times for 136 rushing yards including a big broken run for a 67-yard gain. He was great. The Packers are one of the worst teams against the run this season. The Pack is allowing almost 150 rushing yards per game on average. Miami will need to feed Raheem Mostert and allow him to establish that running game.
Green Bay might be a struggling team defending the run, but they’re the second-best against the pass. Only the 13-1 Philadelphia Eagles allow fewer passing yards per game. That is going to have to mean a statement game both for Tua and Mike McDaniel’s schematic wizardry.
I am looking forward to seeing further adjustments that give Miami more options offensively when things fall out of sync a little. Confidence throws for Tua. Miami has a quarterback who can go toe to toe with the best in the league. They have elite receivers to help him achieve aerial success. This is the game for Tua to drive the entire offense back to their dominant ways. Making one serious statement for the rest of the AFC to fear. .
Dolphins Need To Start Winning Again in Week 16
The Dolphins want to be the team that nobody wants to face in the playoffs. Losing to the Bills by a field goal. Not to mention beating the Bills earlier in the season shows Miami can go toe to toe with anyone.
Losing is not an option. It just can’t happen. This Miami Dolphins team has done more than enough this season to deserve a place in the postseason. But, the NFL is cruel and punishing. Win out and they’re in, it’s that simple. As mentioned beating the Patriots and Jets gets it done. Yet, you feel that the Dolphins need the winning feeling to start again in Week 16.