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Dolphins NFL Playoff Hopes On The Line In Week 8 Against Patriots

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By Abraham Gutierrez

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 8: Chad Henne #7 of the Miami Dolphons throws against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 8, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

(Credit, Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

It’s almost hard to believe that in a matter of three weeks, the Miami Dolphins have undone all the work it took to start the season 3-0, despite having a less-than-favorable road schedule. On the brink of falling under .500 for the first time, the Fins invade Gillette Stadium in hopes of a huge upset, in a pivotal clash with the New England Patriots.This intradivisional showdown is slated to kick off Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Last week against the short-handed Buffalo Bills, Joe Philbin and Co. dropped their third straight decision with yet another lackluster performance. Thus, this team has gone from a 3-0 start and being in playoff conversations to questions about how far they will fall in the standings as the second half of the season unfolds.

Currently, Miami sits in third place in the division, trailing the NY Jets by a half-game and the Pats by two-and-a-half. However, another loss, coupled with a Bills win, would put Miami at the cellar of the division. Having reached the unofficial halfway-mark of the 2013-14 NFL season, the AFC East standings go as follows:

  1. (5-2) New England Patriots
  2. (4-3) New York Jets
  3. (3-3) Miami Dolphins
  4. (3-4) Buffalo Bills

Needless to say, if this team is going to have any chance at a postseason berth, their turnaround has to start this week against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the mighty Patriots.

After this Sunday’s game in Foxboro, Miami’s remaining games are: Cincinnati (home), Tampa Bay (road), San Diego (home), Carolina (home), NY Jets (road), Pittsburgh (road), Patriots (home), Buffalo (road), and NY Jets (home).

Dolphins Must Remain Healthy

Considering the bye week has come and gone, staying healthy will determine whether this team finishes ahead or below the .500 this year.

Following Thursday’s practice last week, the Dolphins listed only seven players on their injured list, which appeared to be a step in the right direction. However, that number ballooned to 12 the following day, ultimately playing a role on the team’s second home loss in as many weeks.

The same scenario could be in store this week, as Thursday’s (Oct. 24) injury report only had eight bodies listed on it. Hopefully that trend doesn’t continue, as Miami is sure to need all hands on deck this week in Foxboro. What are the chances of that happening? Here’s the Miami’s injury report following Thursday’s practice (Oct. 24, 2013):

Quarterback – Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) – Limited in Practice (questionable): Being Tannehill is no walk in the park these days, as the second-year signal-caller remains the most sacked QB in the league. The Texas A&M product is expected to play this week against New England, despite suffering a shoulder injury in last week’s loss to the Bills that has him listed as questionable.

Tackle – Bryant McKinnie (undisclosed) – Limited in Practice (unknown): It appears Miami’s newest acquisition is already spending some time at the nurse’s office, but his injury wasn’t divulged. Also unknown is what Philbin will do with the 6-foot-8, 360-pound, ex-Raven dubbed “Big Mac.”

Cornerback – Brent Grimes (back) – Full Practice (probable): Miami’s veteran defensive back comes into Week 8 fifth on the team with 21 tackles and will be instrumental in Miami’s hopes of an upset. Grimes will be looking for his second interception of the season, and Tom Brady is a heck of a name for him to add to his resume.

Cornerback – Dimitri Patterson (groin) – Full Practice (probable): Despite being listed in Thursday’s report, Patterson is expected to play as he continues to fully recover from a lingering groin injury. After missing four games, the seventh-year vet made his return last week against the Bills, recording three tackles and a sack.

Defensive End – Cameron Wake (knee) – Full Practice (probable): Knee issues have kept Miami’s Pro Bowler on the injury report on a weekly basis. Wake continues to do his best while nursing a knee injury suffered during the Dolphins 17-38 loss at the New Orleans Saints in Week 4.

Wide Receiver – Brandon Gibson (shoulder) – Limited Practice (questionable): With the offensive line’s inability to buy Tannehill time, Gibson is key for the Dolphins’ success against the first-place Patriots. After participating in limited practices on Wednesday and Thursday, the status of Miami’s second-best wideout will be announced in Friday’s injury report.

Linebacker – Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder) – Limited Practice (questionable): Third in the team with 40 tackles (26 solo), the fifth-year player out of Georgia should be cleared to face Brady and the Pats offense. After missing last week’s loss to the Bills, Ellerbe took some snaps with the starters on Wednesday and Thursday, and his status is questionable, pending Friday’s report.

Linebacker – Koa Misi (knee) – Full Practice (probable): Shoulder and knee injuries have made this season less than ideal for the fourth-year-man out of Utah. Nevertheless, Misi has not only played through the pain, but has been a key contributor. Heading into Week 8, the 6-foot-3, 254-pound outside linebacker ranks seventh on the team with 24 tackles (16 solo) and a sack.

Limited Practice

  • (QB) Ryan Tannehill (shoulder)
  • (LB) Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder)
  • (WR) Brandon Gibson (shoulder)

Full Practice

  • (CB) Dimitri Patterson (groin)
  • (LB) Koa Misi (knee)
  • (DE) Cameron Wake (knee)
  • (CB) Brent Grimes (back)

Practice Status Key

  • Did not participate in practice (DNP)
  • Limited in Practice: Less than 100 percent of a player’s normal repetitions
  • Full Practice: 100 percent of a player’s normal repetitions
  • Out: Player will not play

For more Dolphins news and updates, visit Dolphins Central.

Abe Gutierrez is a criminal justice admin whose love for sports led him to become a writer and editor. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com and its partners. His work can be found on Examiner.com. .

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