DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins are 2-6 in their past eight games and there's little margin for error the rest of the year.
Miami will begin its crucial, five-game December slate against the New York Jets on Sunday. Both teams have identical 5-6 records in what is essentially an elimination game for these AFC East rivals.
The Baltimore Ravens (6-6) currently hold the final wild-card spot in the AFC and own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Dolphins and the Jets. The loser of Sunday’s division game will have their postseason chances on life support.
“Both teams are kind of in a similar position,” Dolphins left tackle Bryant McKinnie said after Friday's practice. “We [both] need these last few games to try to get into the playoffs.”
Added Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, “This is like a playoff game to get to a playoff game.”
A huge key for Miami will be to continue to rattle Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith. New York’s second-round pick is struggling mightily. Smith has 10 interceptions and just one touchdown in his past six starts. The Jets are 2-4 in that span.
Keeping Smith in a funk is perhaps the best way for the Dolphins to exit MetLife Stadium with an important road victory on Sunday.
“You don't want to be the team that he gets his confidence back with,” Ellerbe said. “He’s an athletic quarterback. He can beat you running the ball as well as throwing. We just want to put the pressure on him and make him beat us throwing the ball.”