Will Dolphins lose confidence, morale?

The Miami Dolphins began the season with playoff aspirations. Miami came off a 7-9 season and spent more than $200 million in free-agent contracts to improve the team. A fast, 3-0 start only added to the hype.

But Miami’s playoffs dreams have taken a significant blow in recent weeks. The Dolphins are on a four-game losing streak and hasn’t won a game since Sept. 22. Each week it appears more difficult for the Dolphins to get over the hump. They blew a 14-point, halftime lead this past Sunday to the New England Patriots by allowing 24 unanswered points.

Losing confidence and morale could become issues if the losses keep piling up for Miami (3-4).

“If you don’t have a strong locker room, if you don’t have good character individuals in the locker room, I think it could be a concern,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said Monday. “I have a lot of faith in our guys. I believe in them. I think we’ll get this thing right and fixed. We have to do it quickly.”

Things do not get easier for the Dolphins. They will host the first-place Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) Thursday on Halloween night. Unlike the Dolphins, the Bengals are streaking in the right direction. Cincinnati enters this game having won four in a row.

The Dolphins already face an uphill climb for the postseason.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only 10.6 percent of teams since the NFL expanded to 16 games in 1978 made the playoffs after a four-game losing streak. The odds are reduced to 1.7 percent for teams that have a five-game losing streak during the regular season.

Thursday is very much a must-win game for the Dolphins if they want to play beyond December.