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Dolphins remain in playoff contention - barely

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Dolphins remain in playoff contention - barely

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) It might be easier for the Miami Dolphins to make the playoffs than to explain how it could happen.

Both tasks are daunting.

With two games left in the regular season, seven teams have a better record than Miami (6-8) in the AFC race for six playoff spots. The Dolphins have a 2.3 percent chance of earning a postseason berth, according to the web site MakeNFLPlayoffs.com.

Hey, it beats being mathematically eliminated. And it gives the Dolphins something to play for Sunday against Buffalo (5-9).

``I heard we're still in the hunt and still have a chance,'' safety Reshad Jones said Wednesday. ``It does kind of surprise me.''

The Dolphins have been above .500 for only one week all season. They recently lost five times in a six-game stretch, and they're ranked in the lower half of the league in both offense and defense.

Even so, they remain eligible. Barely.

``It's a crazy league,'' said rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who last week erroneously declared the Dolphins out of the playoffs. ``You see a strange situation every year. Anything can happen. We've just got to keep plugging away.''

Don't ask them to explain the sequence of results that would get them into the playoffs.

``I really have no idea,'' tight end Anthony Fasano said. ``I don't know what it takes. You control what you can control; no need to exert energy on other things.''

To have any chance at the postseason, the Dolphins must beat Buffalo and win their regular-season finale at New England.

Four other games in the final two weeks must also go the Dolphins' way. They need for the Bengals to lose their final two games, the Steelers to lose to Cleveland, and the Jets to lose once.

If all of those things happen, the Dolphins would finish tied with the Bengals and Steelers at 8-8 and would win the tiebreaker.

Running back Reggie Bush was among those fuzzy on the details. When they were outlined to him, he shook his head.

``That's too much remembering,'' he said. ``I'm just worried about what we can control.''

He offered a slight twist on football's favorite cliche.

``We're just trying to take these next two games one game at a time,'' Bush said.

First-year coach Joe Philbin hasn't talked about the playoffs all season, and he said it's not a point of emphasis this week.

``The emphasis is a division opponent coming into our home stadium - a team that we haven't beaten yet,'' Philbin said. ``If you want to be a consistently good football team in the National Football League, you've got to win your home games and you've got to win your division games. So that's the real emphasis this week.''

Playoffs haven't been talked about much at the Dolphins' complex for the past decade. They've reached the postseason only once during that span.

A week ago, when the Dolphins had won just one game since Halloween, it was understandable for Tannehill to declare his team a non-contender.

``We realize we're out of the playoff race,'' he said.

Tannehill was quickly corrected by the coaching staff. Then the Dolphins beat Jacksonville, while two other teams contending for the final wild-card berth lost.

Tannehill made certain his assessment of the Dolphins' playoffs chances this week was more mathematically precise.

``We still have something to play for at this point, even if it may be realistically small,'' he said. ``We just have to go out and take care of what we can, and that's winning Sunday.''

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How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

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USA TODAY Sports

How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

It wasn't supposed to happen.

The Capitals celebrated too hard after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. The Tampa Bay Lightning had been here before. Tampa Bay's roster was deeper. Their goalie was hotter. They had home ice advantage. They had easily won their first two series. Nicklas Backstrom was still injured. Washington wouldn't be able to stop the Lightning's power play.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

For all of those reasons, many did not even give the Caps a chance. Washington overcame every obstacle in their way and was, for the most part, the better team through seven games defeating Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference for just the second time in franchise history.

The Capitals showed in their second-round win over the Penguins that these weren't the "same old Caps." They continued to prove that in the conference final when they stunned the Lightning to win Game 1 and Game 2 both on the road.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

When Washington lost the next three, many thought that meant the real Lightning had awoken, but it was the Caps who rose to the occasion in Game 6 and Game 7 where they face elimination as they completely dominated Tampa Bay by a combined score of 7-0.

The Caps now advance to take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. The Knights have lost only three games this entire postseason and will hope to carry that momentum with them into Game 1.

If there is one thing this Washington team has proven, however, it's that you should never count them out.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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