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Surprise! Dolphins thrived against playoff teams this season

To be blunt, the Miami Dolphins had a miserable 6-10 season. What began as a year with playoff aspirations ended with four coaches and executives being fired and additional changes on the way.

But there is one surprise in the mess Miami created: The team actually thrived this season against the current playoff field. The Dolphins were 3-1

Here is a recap:

Week 1: at Washington Redskins

Score: Dolphins, 17-10

Analysis: It feels like a long time ago. But the Dolphins did beat the NFC East champions on their home turf to open the season. It was a strange game where both teams were rusty and feeling each other out for three quarters. ButJarvis Landry's 69-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference. Washington recovered just fine and won nine games this season. They will host the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round on Sunday.

Week 7: vs. Houston Texans

Score: Dolphins, 44-26

Analysis: The Dolphins steamrolled the Texans and scored their most points of the season. This was actually the game that sparked Houston to win the AFC South. The team went back to the drawing board after losing to Miami and won seven of its final nine games. The Texans (9-7) will host the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round on Saturday.

Week 8: at New England Patriots

Score: Patriots, 36-7

Analysis: This was the game former interim head coach Dan Campbell calls the turning point of Miami’s season. Campbell had the team 2-0 and confident heading into Gillette Stadium at the midpoint of the season. But the Patriots embarrassed Miami in a national game on Thursday night. The Dolphins also suffered a pair of season-ending injuries that hurt them in defensive end Cameron Wake (Achilles) and starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James. Miami never quite recovered and went 3-6 the rest of the way.

Week 17: vs. New England Patriots

Score: Dolphins, 20-10

Analysis: The Dolphins saved their most impressive victory for last. In the final game of the regular season, Miami played a complete game and beat the defending Super Bowl champions to split the season series. The defense played the way many expected in the preseason. It stuffed the run and pressured Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on passing downs. The offense put up 438 total yards and kept the chains moving with 20 first downs. It makes you wonder why the Dolphins didn’t play like this all season.

Miami did well against the top teams on its schedule. But in contrast, the Dolphins were 3-9 against non-playoff teams and suffered losses to teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) and San Diego Chargers (4-12). That’s certainly an area where they must improve.