Way Different Week 16 for Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins defeated Cincinnati in Week 16 last year in a game that might have set the stage for the dramatic turnaround they've produced in 2020

The Miami Dolphins are heading into their Week 16 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders holding the seventh spot in the AFC standings and in full control of their playoff destiny.

This is not a revelation because we've known this since the end of Week 15, but it bears repeating because of just how absurd that notion would have sounded just one year ago.

Think about it, at this time last year when the Dolphins were getting for their Week 16 game, what was at stake was not keeping control of their playoff fate but rather draft position.

More specifically, when the Dolphins faced the Cincinnati Bengals at Hard Rock Stadium in Week 16 last year, the outcome was going to help determine the order of the top of the 2020 NFL draft.

The Dolphins ended up winning the game against Cincinnati, of course, clinching the first overall pick for the Bengals.

For some, this actually was a win for the Bengals because it gave them the opportunity to land quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the draft, while the Dolphins eventually ended up with the fifth selection.

But is it a stretch to suggest it was that victory against the Bengals coupled with the one at New England the following week that set the stage for this improbable run the Dolphins have put together in 2020?

Of course, half the roster is different than it was last year after an offseason spree in free agency and the draft, but maybe, just maybe, the seeds were planted in those final two weeks of that 2019 season.

Actually, we probably should look back at the final nine weeks when the Dolphins went 5-4 despite a roster that politely could be described as way below average.

Brian Flores proved down that stretch he absolutely could coach and one has to think that sold his core players — if they already hadn't bought in — on what he was teaching.

So in a way it makes sense that the Dolphins would find themselves 9-5 just one year later.

The Dolphins still don't have what anyone would call an elite roster — as evidenced by their lone Pro Bowl selection (even though it says here they should have had three) — but they're still finding ways to win games, just like they did last year.

So, in retrospect, maybe we shouldn't be surprised by what the Dolphins have done in 2020.

And yet when he think back to the morning of Week 16 last year, it's still pretty crazy to think about.

It's clearly one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in Dolphins history, topped maybe only by what happened in 2008 when the Dolphins went 11-5 in the late Tony Sparano's one year as head coach after finishing 1-15 in 2007.

With a win in either of their final two games, the Dolphins will boost their victory total over the previous year by five for the fourth time. Besides 2008, they also did it in 1970 (10-4 after 3-10-1) and in 2005 (9-7 after 4-12).