As mid-season approaches with this weekend’s eighth game, things have not gone as planned for the visiting Dolphins or for the home team Bills. Miami and Buffalo, along with the New York Jets, have been looking up at the New England Patriots in the divisional standings for most of the past ten years.
The Patriots still hold the top position seven games into this season with a record of seven wins and zero losses. The New York Jets, under new Head Coach Todd Bowles, have surprised many analysts by winning four of their first seven games and are in second place in the division.
It is the Dolphins and Bills that have disappointed fans and surprised pundits so far. The Dolphins have a young franchise quarterback and skilled receivers. The team signed the top Free Agent available in the off-season, Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, to a huge contract, believing he would make their defense dominant.
It hasn’t happened. In fact, Miami played poorly in its first few games and, as a result, its Head Coach “got the axe.” An Interim Head Coach, Dan Campbell, was injected some excitement and life into the squad and the Dolphins responded with impressive victories over inferior competition.
However, Miami had to face the Patriots last week and this squad “came crashing down to earth,” losing badly. The Bills also harbored “high hopes” after signing defensive guru and former Head Coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan, in the offseason.
It was hoped that Ryan would help turn the team’s very good defense into a “shutdown” squad that could win games. Skilled wide receivers and running backs were expected to help elevate the play of EJ Manuel, the squad’s young, but mostly unproven quarterback.
The team from western New York, like the squad from South Beach, has proven to be a disappointment to management and fans after just seven games. The Bills have played well at times, poorly at other times. As such, Buffalo has, like Miami, managed to win just three of seven games played.
While first place in the East Division appears to be “an unreachable dream,” Wild Card invitations are well within reach of both teams. That, and the fact that this weekend’s game pits divisional rivals against one another, makes the outcome on Sunday critically important.
A win for either team will be an important step in the right direction. The squad that loses this game will have inflicted a serious injury upon itself and its playoff chances.
The desperation that each team feels should help to make this game exciting and hard-fought. It will almost certainly be fun to watch.
Courtesy of Rant Sports