Bradley Chubb’s reply to what he desires for Christmas could have finest captured the mindset of the Miami Dolphins heading into the vacation because the staff’s path to the playoffs turns into clearer.
“If Christmas was in February, I’d want a Super Bowl ring,” the sting rusher whom Miami acquired on the commerce deadline stated, “but it’s in December, so I just want a win against the Packers.”
The Dolphins (8-6) aren’t but able the place they’ll clinch a playoff berth — a prerequisite to any Super Bowl run — however a win in opposition to Green Bay (6-8) in a nationally televised 1 p.m. Sunday kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium can put them on the verge of it.
Miami’s easiest path to the postseason, after the New York Jets’ embarrassing Thursday evening loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots’ Saturday loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, is to win any two of its final three video games.
If the Dolphins beat the Packers on Sunday and the Patriots in New England on Jan. 1, and their playoff spot is secured earlier than their regular-season residence finale in opposition to the Jets. Entering Saturday, Miami had a 78 p.c likelihood of constructing the playoffs, based on FiveThirtyEight. That quantity elevated to 81 p.c after Saturday’s 1 p.m. slate of video games.
“There’s one team on our schedule. Nothing matters beyond that. I don’t care about scenarios,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel stated. “The point is that you have to win a game to get in the playoffs. I know that much. We have to win. But you don’t want to get in the playoffs trying to pull yourself out of a slump.”
Right now can be time for Miami to drag itself out of its present stoop.
At the beginning of December, the outlook was extra about competing with the Buffalo Bills atop the AFC East as each groups have been 8-3. Three Dolphins losses and 4 Bills wins later, and that concept has been crushed. Buffalo clinched the division with Saturday afternoon’s win in Chicago.
So now, with the Dolphins clinging on to the AFC’s No. 7 seed regardless of their three-game shedding streak, their path to the postseason is strictly about getting in as a wild card.
The three-game skid doesn’t really feel like so after the Dolphins confirmed some resiliency competing in Buffalo till a last-second area aim sunk them in opposition to the mighty Bills. But let three flip into 4 in opposition to a sub-.500 staff at residence, after which it’s actually wanting grim. At that time, you may toss out any leeway Miami purchased itself by enjoying Buffalo tight. The Dolphins should win Sunday to show any encouragement from the trouble at Orchard Park was warranted heading into the ultimate playoff push.
The Christmas Day matchup in opposition to the Packers is an attention-grabbing one in how its notion has reworked over the course of the season. Given the unique schedule, it was one of many Dolphins’ more difficult video games after the Packers have been the No. 1 seed within the NFC final 12 months and have been happening three consecutive seasons of 13 wins, though quarterback Aaron Rodgers misplaced star receiver Davante Adams within the offseason. As a five-game shedding streak despatched Green Bay to 3-6, although, it was clear these weren’t the identical Packers. Now they’re combating to maintain their slim playoff hopes alive.
But even at 39, you may by no means depend out the 10-time Pro Bowler Rodgers, who has thrown 23 touchdowns to 10 interceptions as he has accomplished 64.9 p.c of passes.
“He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback,” Miami defensive coordinator Josh Boyer stated. “There’s nothing he can’t do, and there’s not much that he hasn’t seen.”
Added cornerback Xavien Howard, who’s contemporary off his fourth Pro Bowl choice: “He can do it all. He still can run. He also can sling it. We got to be on our toes.”
The Dolphins protection must carry out higher because it ranks twenty sixth in scoring protection and twenty third in complete protection. The unit is third-to-last within the league in takeaways.
Miami, amongst many deficiencies defensively, should enhance at protecting pass-catching working backs, and the Dolphins can have their palms full with Aaron Jones out of the backfield. Perhaps there’s a chance to get strain on Rodgers with left sort out David Bakhtiari uncertain because of knee and stomach accidents. The cross rush is an space that has the potential to take off down the ultimate stretch if the trio of Chubb, Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram can convey all of it collectively. Chubb and Phillips, although, are questionable to play Sunday.
“I want to be more dominant,” Chubb stated, assessing his first six video games with Miami. “I want to be taking over games more, and that’s kind of the reason they brought me here is to do that — to help this defense take it to the next level.”
Offensively, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle go in opposition to the NFL’s second-ranked cross protection. Green Bay could possibly be susceptible on the bottom, nevertheless, ranked twenty ninth in run protection, so one other massive sport could possibly be on faucet for tailback Raheem Mostert. It can be a welcome sight, too, if Jeff Wilson is ready to return from his hip harm.
Hill, considered one of three Dolphins to make the Pro Bowl with Howard and left sort out Terron Armstead, stated he has a “crazy” celebration prepared if he finally ends up scoring on Christmas.
Dolphins fullback Alec Ingold, a Green Bay native, faces his hometown staff for the primary time since his rookie season in 2019 with the Raiders.
“You look at my Halloween costumes, I was either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers for five years straight,” Ingold stated.
McDaniel and Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur face off for the primary time as head coaches after the 2 frolicked collectively as assistants on teaching staffs in Washington, Atlanta and Houston.