Dolphins Defy Odds: Playoff Bound

Despite the season ending knee injury to starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, the Miami Dolphins rank #6 in the AFC Wild Card race, facing the highly favored Pittsburgh Steelers.

A rookie head coach, an injury riddled starting squad and immeasurable odds made no difference to the Miami Dolphins as they fought tooth and nail to make the AFC Playoffs. Seeded at number 6, the Fins face a tough road to Super Bowl 51 but have shown that they are indeed a contender for the Lombardi Trophy despite an absence from the NFL playoffs since the first round loss to Baltimore in 2008.

Well known for the 1972 perfect season, the Dolphins find themselves unfairly compared to a dynasty team that no NFL team has been able to match.

“We know all too well about the days of Don Shula, Bob Greise and the undefeated '72 Fins facing Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship,” commented Manning Sumner, pro athlete trainer and founder of Miami's top bootcamp gym and pro training facility, Legacy Fit Midtown. “But this is the era of Gase and Tannehill and the team is equally as good as the '72 Super Bowl Champions. Winning ten games in one of the most competitive seasons in NFL history is nothing to ignore!”

Despite those ten wins, the Dolphins find themselves ranked below AFC teams that did not reach the playoffs in the NFL 2016 season and the underdog heading into the first round against a peaking Pittsburgh Steelers team.

“I know how the guys are,” Sumner continued. “With Tannehill down for the count, the O-line has really stepped up and made things happen. It's awfully tough to get through that wall of muscle!”

As the offseason strength and conditioning trainer for many NFL players, including two of the starting offensive linemen of the Miami Dolphins, Sumner knows of what he speaks.

“Pittsburgh is an amazing team but Miami is ready for them,” the former Auburn Linebacker continued. “It's not 1972 anymore and the Dolphins know that. Gase has created depth and efficiency on both sides of the ball that is shining bright late in the season and going into the playoffs.”

Heavily the underdog, Miami looks to play spoiler in the highly competitive AFC and take Super Bowl LI by surprise.

“No one except fans expected Gase and the Fins to go so far this season,” Sumner commented, pointing out the many NFL and Dolphin jerseys dotting the walls of his Miami bootcamp gym. “But for some of us, it's no surprise at all. Gase has a plethora of talent on that team and has brought it to light with or without Tannehill. The Dolphins are real contenders.”

Slipping in as the bottom seed in the AFC, the underdog Dolphins can upset the apple cart with one simple win in the Wild Card game against Pittsburgh.

“If they can upset the Steelers, it's anyone's game,” said Sumner with a grin. “Analysts seem to see a clear path to the big game for New England in the AFC and Dallas in the NFC but stats and speculation don't mean much in the trenches. It will be the hungriest, most determined teams that will make the Super Bowl. Why not Miami?”

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**JD Arbuckle is a freelance journalist specializing in consumer education on a variety of topics including bootcamp gyms, health and fitness and the NFL.

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