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Important Game? Yes. Must-Win Game?

The Miami Dolphins are looking to avoid a 1-3 start for a second consecutive season

Let's face it, sportswriters and media members often tend to exaggerate the significance of specific events, such as regular season games.

It's certainly the case when it comes to the notion of "must-win" games.

Like saying the Miami Dolphins are heading into a "must-win" game against the Indianapolis Colts at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.

No, it's not a "must-win" game.

By strict definition, losing a "must-win" game would suggest being eliminated from playoff contention with a loss, and that's obviously not going to happen in Week 4 of any season.

To be sure, the Dolphins really don't want to fall to 1-3, particularly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next on the schedule a week from Sunday.

But weren't the Dolphins 1-3 last year before they rallied to finish 10-6 — after first putting themselves in position to earn a playoff spot with a victory at Buffalo in the season finale?

But it's not just last year.

Surely Dolphins fans remember that the last two playoff appearances came in seasons that featured tough starts.

Yes, the Dolphins made the playoffs in 2016 after starting 1-4.

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Before that, the previous playoff appearance came in 2008, which began with the Dolphins starting 0-2 and then 2-4.

So let's not flush the season if the Dolphins end up losing against the Colts.

Yes, it would put the Dolphins in a catch-up role when it comes to trying to land a playoff spot — particularly if Cincinnati is going to make a run.

But let's remember this is a 17-game season, which makes for a little bigger margin for error.

It's always important to remember that the Dolphins will have their share of — how shall we put this? — softer games once they get past that Tampa Bay game.

To start off, the Dolphins have four games left against three of the five winless teams in the NFL — two against the Jets, and against the Giants and Jaguars.

And, yes, there will have to be victories against tougher opponents along the way, but that's what you have to do if you're going to make the playoffs.

The AFC isn't going to be lacking for playoff contenders, it would be appear based on the first three weeks, particularly with the AFC West looking like it's got not one, not two, not three but four legit teams.

The Colts figured to be playoff contenders themselves — they WERE in the postseason last year after all — but they're off to an 0-3 start and they're dealing with a massive amount of significant injuries and defeating them doesn't appear nearly as significant a challenge now as it did entering the regular season.

That's why it would be disappointing to see the Dolphins lose for a third consecutive week. But devastating? No.

Bottom line: It's a big game because every game is a big game. But must-win? No, it's not at level.