There is no way to sugarcoat what happened during Miami’s Week 17 game against Buffalo, where they lost 56-26. It stunk. This was a situation where it was a win-and-in. Miami lost, and none of the teams behind them lost. So, Miami misses the playoffs for the 4th season in a row, even though they finished 10-6 this year.

It’s unfortunate that the year where the NFL expands the playoffs by 1 spot per conference, that even at 10-6, Miami does not qualify. Meanwhile, in the NFC, there is an 8-8 Chicago Bears team and a 7-9 Washington Football team who qualified for the postseason. It was more bad luck for the Miami Dolphins because, in a typical year, 10-6 gets you in the playoffs; even 9-7 could.

Give credit though, however, to the teams in the AFC. Each team who qualified has between 11-14 wins. Do you think that Kansas City is going to cakewalk their way back to the Super Bowl? No way. I hate to say this, but I really think that the Buffalo Bills have a fair shot at beating the Kansas City Chiefs, even on the road. Their backups against the Dolphins even played well and scored at will. Sure, if you play that game against the Bills 100 times, I doubt they score 56 points, even a quarter of those matchups. Miami did not show up on Sunday, pressure came, and they squandered. Buffalo was motivated to lock up that 2-seed, and the better team won. They are a few years ahead in their rebuild, and that was something we knew before this season even started, so to be in the position to play for a playoff spot in Week 17 is something that not many Miami Dolphins fans thought they would be in when the season started. I sure didn’t; I predicted this team to finish 7-9.

That loss stinks, no way to sugarcoat it. Though, I think this benefits Miami in the long term. In a year where the Dolphins “overachieved” to many people’s standards, to be where they are in year 2 of a rebuild at 10-6, and let’s not forget the 3rd and 18th overall picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, Miami could be winning in the long term.

Does it stink not making the playoffs? Absolutely, this is why the players play to win. This is why fans watch games to watch their team win. I would be lying to you if I said that I was not cheering hard for the 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars to beat the Indianapolis Colts in the 4:25 window of games after the Dolphins/Bills score became final. Had Jacksonville won, it would have set up a matchup between Miami and Buffalo on Wild Card Weekend. Even if Miami were to get destroyed again, the players would have liked to get another shot at their hated rivals from Western New York.

Where the Dolphins stand right now is great. They finished 10-6; they have 4 draft picks in the top 50(3, 18, 36, and 50) and the 7th most cap space heading into the 2021 Offseason at $33.3M. This will attract even bigger name free agents this coming offseason when Chris Grier and Brian Flores lay down their pitches and list the following on where the Dolphins stand.

Think about this. Obviously, there was no way that we could have predicted a global pandemic, although COVID-19 is not the first one in the history of our world. With what it has done to the NFL, with a good portion of teams not being able to have fans in the stands or a limited number of fans, means the league cap for 2021 is going down. This means many teams might be in big financial trouble; the Miami Dolphins are not one of those teams. This might be an offseason where we see a whole bunch of cuts from other teams who are up against the cap, which could mean that the Miami Dolphins could pounce and sign a few guys who got let go from other teams, along with other players who were already going to be free agents this offseason.

Miami is in a perfect spot, regardless of Sunday’s result. The season was a success; Brian Flores had a slow start in 2019 starting 0-7 but has had a record 15-10 ever since. They got to draft the Quarterback at number 5 overall that they believe is going to take them to the promise land in Tua Tagovailoa; they invested in the offensive line with a chance to possibly draft the best offensive line prospect in the 2021 draft in Penei Sewell, they spent big in Free Agency with the acquisitions of Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, and Emmanuel Ogbah. Now it’s their time to add to that, possibly a Wide receiver in free agency and doubling down in the draft. They have two promising running backs in Myles Gaskin and Savon Ahmed, with an opportunity to take a running back in late round 1 or early round 2. They have one of the best defenses in the league, with an opportunity to add to that.

I got over the Buffalo loss quickly because I was reminded that playoffs would be a bonus after an already successful season. This might be good for the players currently on the roster, too, because they are mad about how they performed, and they know that until said otherwise, the Buffalo Bills will be the team to beat in the AFC East. The Dolphins will go into their offseason to focus on elevating over them. Even Dolphins Linebacker Kyle Van Noy spoke publicly on Twitter about how “pissed off” he was about how they played in Week 17. So this will motivate Miami in the offseason, training camp, and throughout next season to be the hunter, while the Buffalo Bills will be the hunted.

They might have lost in the short term, but I am certain that they won for the long term.