The Miami Dolphins 2020 season is on the verge of ending this Sunday during Week 17 of the NFL regular season.

The Dolphins need either a victory against the Buffalo Bills, or a loss by Baltimore Ravens, or a loss by the Cleveland Browns.

However, the Ravens have a fair chance of winning against the Cincinnati Bengals. And the Browns have an almost coin-flip game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The good news for the Dolphins is that the Bengals, since losing starting quarterback Joe Burrow, have won some improbable games while playing with 2nd and 3rd-string QBs. During Weeks 15 and 16, they’ve managed to defeat the Steelers and Houston Texans. So maybe there is still some claws in the Bengals that may come out slashing on those Ravens.

The Browns could beat the Steelers, but the Steelers had that amazing comeback win last week against a surging Indianapolis Colts team. So maybe the Steelers got their groove back?

But for the Dolphins to suffer a loss against the Bills and rely on others to give them help reminds me too much of the Tony Sporano and Joe Philbin-led teams of old. We all remember how much lack of help those Dolphins teams received, don’t we?

So the Dolphins need to start with taking care of business on Sunday.

They need to WIN.

And hopefully, the Bills will help with that by resting their starters. But field general Brian Flores and company are preparing for the worst-case scenario.

And that’s Buffalo Bills at full-strength— mostly, anyway.

So that means the Dolphins defense needs to be ready for a spicy Buffalo-winged assault.

Luckily, Bills slot-receiver Cole Beasley is listed as OUT. But Xavien Howard and Byron Jones will need to contain Stephon Diggs and John Brown.

And the Dolphins defensive-line and linebacking core will have to plug those running-lanes as well as reduce Josh Allen’s legs.

And most importantly, Tua Tagovailoa must be ready to lead this offense.

I’m not saying Tua needs to carry this team. He will have to overcome his hesitancy of throwing into tight windows, trust his receivers for a big play, and execute. He must get the ball out quick or take off running, or this Bills defense will eat him alive.

There is no relief pitcher available. There is no Fitz-magic to save the day.

So Tua needs to play aggressively. He’s going to have to take chances. He’s going to have to use his legs and mobility. Because playing conservatively against opposing QB Josh Allen and offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll isn’t going to cut it.

Last week, the Bills defense had no respect for the Patriots’ lateral and short-passing attack. They loaded about 8-10 defenders in the box for a good portion of that game.

Tua may be working with a similar cast of characters as Patriots QB Cam Newton, but he can’t rely on short plays to move the chains, not in this game.

So offensive coordinator Chan Gailey will have to dial something up, and he’s probably going to need to get creative with some trick plays to catch the Bills off guard. And the Dolphins better hope they get an admirable effort from their backfield to keep the Bills defense honest.

Tua may be getting receivers DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant returning from injury. Both of those guys have the ability to open space and stretch the field. So that bodes well for the Dolphins.

But Parker’s hamstring still may not be 100 percent by Sunday. And event with Grant’s gift of speed, he’s had questionable hands and big-time drops at times this season.

But this is a test for Tua. One of the major tests of seeing if a young rookie will blossom into a franchise quarterback.

This isn’t the Broncos, the Jets, the Raiders, or the Bengals. This is the 2020 Buffalo Bills. One of the league’s best teams right now and the division leader.

And Tua will have to find a way to keep his team (and it is his team now after the loss of Fitzpatrick) in this game with a strong performance.

Tua has the accuracy, decision-making, and ball-placement to be an excellent quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. But he must improve on 3rd-downs, and he needs to learn to throw in small NFL windows.

And he will need to perform in the team’s big game in Week 17 to extend their season into the playoffs against a quality opponent.

That’s what determines a franchise QB: showing up in big moments and big games.

Tua doesn’t need to win this game, but he needs to show up. And show up big.

Because the Bills will find a way to put up points. Points that Tua will need to answer with his time with the ball.