The Dolphins got a raw deal when the NFL moved up next week’s game at Buffalo. Having the game moved to Saturday night certainly won’t help Miami’s preparation or health/recovery. It also doesn’t help that the NFL moved this Sunday’s game against the Chargers to an 8:20 p.m. kickoff.
But the same thing could be said every week in reference to Thursday Night Football. The show must go on. No excuses.
If the Dolphins (8-4) take care of business, meaning winning their next two games, at the Los Angeles Chargers (6-6) and against the Bills (9-3), they’re back in first place in the AFC East. Both the Dolphins and Bills would have 10-4 records, assuming the Bills defeat the New York Jets this week, but the Dolphins would have two victories over Buffalo.
Coach Mike McDaniel likes to say adversity is an opportunity.
Well, opportunity is knocking. And opportunity doesn’t have a Complaint Department.
The Dolphins, in the midst of a grueling three-game road trip, are spending this week in Los Angeles after last week’s lackluster loss at San Francisco (because it makes more sense than coming back to South Florida between back-to-back games in California).
By the way, the early forecast calls for a high temperature of 34 degrees in Buffalo with a low of 28 degrees and a 24 percent chance of rain. No snow, no ice. So, for now, it’ll be seasonal, not extreme.
Having the Buffalo game “flexed,” a term that comes from the NFL’s policy of “flexible” scheduling, to Saturday night is the result of the Dolphins being successful and popular. Simply put, the eagerly anticipated Dolphins-Bills game is huge. It’s why the NFL has flexible scheduling, so it can better position late-season games to prime time to meet fans’ interests. OK, it’s really to meet the NFL’s financial interest, but whatever.
People want to see quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, speedster Tyreek Hill and McDaniel’s creative offense.
The Dolphins are intriguing. Look at the shift to a Saturday night game against the Bills as the price of fame.
On a side note, Buffalo fans won’t want to hear the scheduling complaints.
The Bills had to play three games in a 12-day span between Nov. 20 and Dec. 1, and none of the games were at home. The Bills won all three games.
Buffalo’s Nov. 20 game against Cleveland was moved to Detroit because of a snowstorm in western New York. Buffalo won, 31-23. Then the Bills went back to Detroit four days later, on Thanksgiving, and beat Detroit, 28-25. In the process, the Bills became the first team to play two games in five or fewer days on the road in the same stadium and win both games.
The following week, which was last week, the Bills defeated New England, 24-10, on Thursday night to improve to 9-3 and take sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
The Dolphins need a similar performance.
A victory Sunday against the Chargers sets the stage for a showdown at Buffalo.
A loss against the Chargers sets the stage for something just short of a must-win game at Buffalo. Lose three in a row and the season takes on a much different look. The same could be said for winning two out of three.
You knew this rough three-game road stretch against the 49ers, Chargers and Bills would be a season-defining moment for the Dolphins. That moment has arrived, with an added sense of urgency and importance considering the Dolphins lost to the 49ers, 33-17.
But the scheduling concerns, which are legit, is akin to listening to another team’s injury woes, weather woes, travel woes or anything else. No one cares. Worse, no one remembers, or cares to remember.
It’s a bottom-line industry. Did you make the playoffs? It’s a yes or no question. Fans are more concerned about delving into the reasons why, but no one else cares.
And so it goes with the Dolphins. No one cares about the short week heading into next week’s game at Buffalo, the injury to starting left tackle Terron Armstead, or anything else.
The Dolphins’ season will eventually boil down to a yes or no question — Did you make the playoffs?