Every fan wants their favorite team to make the playoffs, right?
Well in order for the Miami Dolphins to accomplish this goal, they will need to win these five essential games, in addition to playing an excellent season.
These five games are not the most difficult on the schedule, but they are the ones that will give us the most momentum and will allow us to win more games in the season.
These games are ranked by the strength of the opponent, the momentum gained by winning that game and how it helps us in the division/conference to make the playoffs.
Without further ado, here are the top five must-win games of the Miami Dolphins' 2011 Season.
I feel like it's a broken record: The Miami Dolphins have never beaten the Houston Texans.
In the second week of the NFL season, the Dolphins will have a chance to redeem themselves and start the season on the right note.
This game could be paralleled to the 2010 season's second week versus the Minnesota Vikings. Beating the Vikings gave us enough momentum to give the Dolphins some confidence.
Additionally, the Texans, who will most likely not surpass the Colts in their division, will be a contender for the AFC Wildcard, and giving them a loss definitely won't hurt the Dolphins' chances of earning a spot in the playoffs.
Beating the Texans for the first time is extremely important for the Miami Dolphins. Doing so will give us enough initial momentum to get us started on the right track, and will not force us to play catch-up in the beginning of the season.
Every game against the Jets is a must-win game (in my opinion at least).
Besides the agony of defeat, beating the Jets has a ton of perks to it.
For one, the Jets will most likely be the main contenders in our way of the AFC Wild Card, assuming the Patriots win the AFC East.
Considering we are coming off of a bye week, we should be able to win and establish ourselves as the better of the two teams. If we cannot beat the Jets after an extra week of game-planning and practice, we never will.
This will be the game that the Dolphins establish themselves as the better of the two teams this season.
Lastly, defeating the Jets gives the Dolphins tons of momentum for their upcoming games, and that's why it's a must-win game.
Yes. You read that right, the Kansas City Chiefs will be one of the most important games of the season.
Even though we have never had any sort of rivalry with the Chiefs, this game will turn into a heart-pumping game that will affect the entire season.
It is extremely likely that the Chiefs will also be competing for the AFC Wild Card, and near the midpoint of the season, it is essential that we start to gain advantages over the other contenders.
The Chiefs are a strong, but beatable team. This is one of those games that the Dolphins should win, but may have difficulty with.
If we beat the Chiefs, it will reaffirm that the Dolphins are not just an average team, but are among the elite teams in the NFL.
It will also give them momentum leading up to their game three weeks later, which is why this game makes it on the list of one of the most important games of the season.
The Cowboys have a ton of talent on their team, and if the Dolphins can beat them, they would be considered one of the best teams in the NFL. Having this title will definitely help the 'Fins get through there next few games leading up to the season finale versus the Jets.
This victory will also help our record against common opponents with the Jets, which could come in handy during a tie-breaker situation.
Although this game may be difficult, defeating the Cowboys may not only serve as the turning point of the season, but as the turning point of the franchise since Dan Marino's departure.
Week 17. Versus the Jets. In the words of Bart Scott, "Can't Wait!"
As previously mentioned, the Jets will be our main contender for the AFC Wild Card, and a chance to beat them during the last week of the season is incredible.
The Dolphins need to capitalize on this opportunity.
Odds are that the winner of this game will win the AFC Wild Card race, which makes this game by far the most important game of the 2011 season for the Dolphins to win.
Not to mention, this is the Jets. A victory against them in the last week of the season will have the Dolphins and its fans an end on a high note.
If this game isn't a must-win game, I don't know what is.
But I bet you're wondering why the games versus the Patriots haven't been mentioned.
That photo just lights up your day, doesn't it? (Lights up, get it?)
I'm not crazy. I just don't think that either of the Patriots games will be that essential to the Dolphins' success and making the playoffs.
First off, the Patriots will most likely win the AFC East, and therefore will not be contenders against us in the Wild Card race.
Secondly, we all know the Patriots are a great team, and have more talents than the Jets and the Dolphins. When we go into a Patriots game, we know that the Patriots are favored. A loss to the Patriots is almost expected with the way Tom Brady is playing.
Splitting games with the Patriots is important; however, each game individually does not have a significant impact on the 2011 season, and will have almost no effect on whether or not the Dolphins makes the playoffs.
This upcoming season is very important for the Dolphins, and these five games will serve as the defining points and must-win games of the 2011 season.