NFC North Reporter
It’s a fight for these teams’ playoff lives, with one much more likely to make it than the other. The Dolphins are in if they win out. Full stop. They might not even need to win out. The Packers, even if they do win out, would still need help from other teams in their conference (and in their division) to do the improbable.
Miami did just relinquish the sixth seed and currently sits seventh due to the Chargers’ win last weekend. Miami and Los Angeles have the same 8-6 record, but the Chargers own the head-to-head tiebreaker. And while the Dolphins do have some wiggle room, seeding is going to be important. As of right now, as the seventh seed, they would play the second seed in the wild-card round, which is currently the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s not a team anyone wants to see first thing in the postseason. Climbing up the ranks is only possible if Miami takes care of business the rest of the way.
Green Bay is heading down to Miami with a 9% chance to make the playoffs, according to the New York Times simulator. If the Packers win, that number goes up to 19%. If they lose, it drops to 1%. The Packers need this win desperately.
Aaron Rodgers optimistic about Packers’ playoffs odds
Nick Wright, Chris Broussard and Kevin Wildes discuss Green Bay’s win over the Rams and react to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers showing optimism about making the NFL playoffs.
They are riding a two-game win streak, albeit both against struggling teams. The Green Bay defense put a hurting on a shell of a Rams offense on Monday night with Baker Mayfield at quarterback and the 67th combination of offensive linemen. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but there’s been no continuity in that unit all season and on Monday, Mayfield was sacked five times. It was more of what we had expected to see out of a Green Bay defense that includes multiple first-round picks within its front seven. On top of that, the Packers now rank second in passing defense, allowing just 185.1 yards per game through the air.
They’ll need to fire on those same cylinders against a Miami offense that has cooled a bit over the past few weeks. It’s resulted in a three-game losing streak, though all three losses were to good teams (49ers, Chargers, Bills). That being said, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa still leads the NFL in passer rating at 107.8. This is the get-right game that could help Miami get off on the right foot heading into the playoffs. Conversely, the Packers are 1-5 against teams with winning records this season, while the Dolphins are 5-1 in home games.
Matchup to watch: Packers LB Preston Smith vs. Miami tackles
Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead was among those who didn’t practice on Wednesday, but he’s been playing through multiple injuries the past couple of weeks. Given that perceived vulnerability, Green Bay could try to capitalize. Smith had two of the Packers’ five sacks on Monday night and has had at least a half sack and a tackle for loss in three of his past four games. In his only career game against Miami while with Washington, Smith had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
He and the rest of the Packers’ defensive front are seemingly figuring out how to operate without Rashan Gary and finally getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks here in the last quarter of the season. Getting to Tagovailoa would be the easiest way to slow down a Miami offense that has all the potential for explosive plays by star receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
- Aaron Jones (937 rushing yards this season) needs 63 rushing yards to become the fourth player in Packers history to record three seasons with 1,000-plus rushing yards (John Brockington, Jim Taylor, Ahman Green).
- Tyreek Hill, who ranks second in the NFL in receptions (109) and receiving yards (1,529), needs four catches to set a new Dolphins single-season record (current record is 112 receptions by Jarvis Landry in 2017).
Prediction: The Dolphins have been great at home and are desperate for a win to boost morale, momentum or whatever you want to call it heading into the postseason. I think Tagovailoa gets back on track against a defense that has struggled against good teams.
That’s not to say the Packers won’t score some points, though. They’ve started to figure out a rhythm on offense, while still not entirely having an identity. They have both Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs healthy and when coupled with Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard, quarterback Aaron Rodgers believes that receiver group can take Green Bay into the postseason. Running back AJ Dillon, who left the Rams game early, has cleared concussion protocol so both he and Aaron Jones are available. At the very least, the Packers are getting healthy at a good time, but will it end up mattering? The Dolphins say no.
Dolphins 29, Packers 27
Green Bay Packers
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Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.
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