Give the NFL credit score. The league clearly employed writers from disparate backgrounds to rearrange the season’s plotlines. On Sunday, the Week 18 finale will climax with an end-of-season conflict of genres between the Buffalo Payments and Miami Dolphins, who couldn’t be extra totally different. The Dolphins also have a Laborious Knocks digicam crew following them round, documenting their exploits.
Miami is constructed like a workforce ripped straight out of Stan Lee-Kevin Feige’s mind belief. The Dolphins are additionally susceptible to the identical missteps as an overcaffeinated solid of marquee names who rating factors in bunches and promote merchandise to informal followers. Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, and Jaylen Waddle transfer like they’ve been edited by particular results. Basic Supervisor Chris Grier’s team-building abilities must be lauded as a lot as Section 1 Nick Fury or Mike McDaniel’s play calling.
McDaniel’s arc from Yale graduate to offensive wunderkind has been pulled straight from the Tony Stark crib sheet. His jocularity, cleverness, and experience in designing revolutionary gadget performs are what make him the brains behind their buzzing offensive machine. Tua Tagovailoa is Miami’s Hawkeye, the mild-mannered marksman outfitted with a bow and quiver when the opposite aspect has cannons of their arsenal. On the finish of the day, he’s essentially the most mortal variable within the equation, which makes him simple to root for.
The Dolphins lead the league in scoring, however beneath the floor, they’re the equal of Disney pablum sacrificing physicality within the trenches like an MCU script being stripped of depth and character improvement in favor of larger motion sequences.
In opposition to the 5 finest groups on their schedule, they’ve averaged 12 fewer factors per recreation and so they went 1-4 in contests towards Philadelphia, Kansas Metropolis, Baltimore, and Buffalo. All 4 proved they may subdue Miami with bully ball. Miami’s solely win in these 5 cames got here towards Dallas — however even that one was a turbulent offensive affair the place the Fins solely scored one landing.
Ultimately, although, the basketball on grass fad, full with CGI-generated explosions, inexperienced screens, and sunny climate in December begins to fade. The bodily groups have swooped in with the vigor of Martin Scorcese piling on top of superhero fatigue whereas cleansing up through the playoffs and award season.
Miami’s fall from the AFC’s pinnacle is akin to the MCU’s fall as a result of unexpectedly made particular results, shallow plots pushed by wisecracking supes, and inexperienced display screen paint-by-numbers franchise IP at breakneck speeds. Most of those parts describe these Dolphins.
The league’s finest defenses have a deal with on all their pre-snap motion alchemy. In contrast to his socially stunted peers, McDaniels is emotionally clever, treats his gamers with dignity as a substitute of as nameless numbers on a play sheet, and in addition rebuilt Tagovailoa’s confidence. All these particulars make their early season humiliation of Sean Payton much more satisfying on reflection.
However the NFL isn’t an workplace job. Between the strains is a fiery, adrenaline-filled, job. Miami’s PG-rated physicality and lack of an edge are doing it in because the calendar flips to January.
Who’s the emotional firebrand within the locker room or on the Dolphins workers who could be relied on to snap them out of a funk and get them to run by a wall or plow by a wall? They appeared unfastened on Laborious Knocks main as much as the Ravens’ bloodbath. Perhaps too comfy.
Worse off, their protection shall be transferring on with out Bradley Chubb and his 11 sacks and 6 compelled fumbles after he tore his ACL through the fourth quarter of a blowout.
McDaniel fulfilled his preseason promise to diversify their offensive portfolio by squeezing extra utilization out of his backfield. As a large-scale manufacturing, the offense is an much more entertaining spectacle than final season, nonetheless, in these heart-pounding close-up pictures — aka short yardage situations — they’ve missed the mark.
On Sunday night time, the Fins will attempt to get again on monitor towards the Hitchcockian Buffalo Payments. The stakes are larger this weekend for some other workforce — besides perhaps the Pats. Win and the Payments declare the AFC East and probably earn the convention’s No. 2 seed. A loss coupled with wins by the Jags and Steelers would finish their season in Week 18.
Allen is essentially the most suspenseful character within the Payments’ story. There’s no telling whether or not Allen will snip the blue wire, by chance detonate his lifeless man’s swap and incinerate the Payments season, or clip the pink wire, and shepherd Buffalo into the postseason. A loss may be detrimental to Sean McDermott’s job safety.
Stefon Diggs may explode on the gridiron or emotionally at any moment. Throughout their playoff elimination by the hands of Cincinnati a 12 months in the past, Diggs was visibly frustrated throughout the game and stormed out of the locker room earlier than chatting with the media. Anybody who isn’t on the sting of their seat ready to seek out out is mendacity. The strain shall be palpable all through the night time. The league couldn’t have requested for a extra riveting season finale.