Scully's NFL Notebook: Are the Dolphins for real?

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December 22nd, 2021

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, only five teams have been eliminated from playoff consideration.

On the flip side, Green Bay became the first team to clinch a playoff berth, improving to 11-3 with a narrow win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15, and the Packers are on a fast track to the top seed in the NFC.

Following a 3-4 start, the Kansas City Chiefs have won seven straight, and now lead the AFC standings.

Let’s examine more storylines in this week’s NFL Notebook.

Failures won’t stop aggressive play calling

Despite an injury-ravaged offensive line and secondary, and a back-up quarterback, Baltimore went toe-to-toe with Green Bay before losing on a failed two-point conversion. It marked the second time in three weeks that Baltimore missed a two-point conversion after scoring late in the fourth quarter, eschewing an overtime session.

The losses have Baltimore teetering on the cusp of the playoff window, and opened a door for John Harbaugh’s critics, but star tight end Mark Andrews defended his coach. In fact, Baltimore’s players are unified in their support of Harbaugh’s fortitude.

Same for the Los Angeles Chargers, who refused to kick field goals and failed on three fourth-down attempts deep in Kansas City’s territory. The Chargers wound up losing in overtime, leaving casual fans infuriated by Brandon Staley’s decision making, but the locker room defended its first-year coach.

Traditionalists may not approve, but aggressive coaches have the respect of players, who relish the opportunity to live by the sword, and die by it.

Detroit wallops Arizona

After opening 0-10-1, Detroit has won two of its last three games, upsetting Arizona by a shocking 30-12 margin last weekend. Arizona, which brought a 7-0 road record to Detroit, lost as a 13-point favorite.

The Lions are still trying for first-year coach Dan Campbell. Arizona, which lost their second straight, fell into a tie for first in the NFC West with the Los Angeles Rams.

Class check looms for Miami

Miami made the most of a favorable stretch, winning six in a row to join the playoff picture at 7-7. The next three weeks will determine the Dolphins' legitimacy. Following back-to-back road tests at New Orleans and Tennessee, Miami will conclude the regular season against New England at home.

NFL Game of the Week

Options for our NFL Game of the Week include Indianapolis at Arizona and Buffalo at New England, but top billing goes to Los Angeles at Minnesota.

Sun, December 26 2021, 6:00 PM

MIN Vikings






O 49

LA Rams






U 49

Following a hard-fought win over Seattle on Tuesday, Los Angeles must travel on short rest to Minnesota for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff. The Rams have forged a tie in the NFC West, and need to keep winning because Arizona owns the tiebreaker advantage.

December collapses have been a staple for Minnesota in recent seasons, but they can finish the month 3-1 with a victory. The Vikings own the final NFC playoff spot at 7-6, and Mike Zimmer’s job likely relies upon a strong finish to the regular season.