We’re there, right there, right on the doorstep of something special — something as good as it gets in sports, really.
This is the kind of new year that can feel new right from the start. Because this is the kind of Sunday that makes you think if everything breaks right and the formula of the past seven Miami Dolphins wins holds, they can have a game that turns a memorable run into a magical season.
So much has happened for the Dolphins already in winning seven straight games. So much will happen the rest of the way starting Sunday, if this is to become one of those seasons everyone remembers.
This Sunday at Tennessee is all about getting the Dolphins to next Sunday against New England. Next Sunday can get them in the playoffs. No one thought that possible after a 1-7 start. No one thought it likely even when they solved some problems on defense, got quarterback Tua Tagovailoa healthy and won a few games.
Now they’re smack in the middle of playoff talk, even if not many nationally are talking about them. Sunday can change that. Sunday can confirm everything about these past seven weeks.
Win, and their streak runs to a historic eight in a row. Win, and they take down the current No. 2 seed in the AFC, on the road and in the cold. Those ingredients matter, too.
Tennessee is 6-2 at home. Only Kansas City, Green Bay and Tampa Bay have better home records this year. They’re all Super Bowl favorites, too.
And the cold? It’s expected to crash into freezing weather in Nashville by kickoff. The wind is forecast to be 15-25 mph. That’s the kind of weather the Dolphins rarely have played in and even more rarely won in.
They’ve lost their past six games in weather under 40 degrees. They’re 3-8 in such games over the last decade.
These Dolphins haven’t paid any attention to conventional thought, so there’s no reason they would care about historical cold patterns. Most of the roster has flipped over the last few years, anyhow.
Ryan Tannehill was one of those who left. It was the best career move he could make. The former Dolphins quarterback’s three seasons in Tennessee have ended in the AFC title game, the opening round of the playoffs and wherever this one goes in the playoffs.
The Titans are the AFC’s second seed now. They’re a good team, a tough team. They also don’t have their big playmaker in running back Derrick Henry. They’ve lost to lowly Houston and the New York Jets this year. They’ve lost to a mediocre Pittsburgh team and squeaked by a mediocre San Francisco team the past two weeks.
They’re vulnerable enough, in other words, if the Dolphins are good enough. The Dolphins have a defense that has won two months of games. The Dolphins have, at his best, an efficient and error-free quarterback in Tagovailoa. Can the Dolphins step up in weight class Sunday and still ride that formula?
Everyone knows the fun has been limited for Dolphins fans the past couple of decades. There was Bill Parcells walking around the locker room, collaring Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown after a win in their playoff push in 2008 , saying, “Let’s do something special!”
There, too, was coach Adam Gase’s Dolphins rallying with Tannehill (until he got hurt) and making the playoffs in 2016. After that season, Gase said, “We’re just getting started.”
It didn’t work out that way. Maybe this era works out better. It’s a Cinderella world for the Dolphins right now, one where they can slip on the glass slipper Sunday against Tennessee and confirm the good work they’ve done the past two months. Or the clock can strike midnight.
That’s the good Sunday the Dolphins have played themselves into. They need one more good Sunday to get to the final Sunday. No one thought they could get here the way this odd season broke. Now they’re here, right here, standing in a new year on the edge of something special.
Source: Berkshire mont