Why Miami will make the playoffs

A strong defense and effective coaching lead the way for the Dolphins

Updated: December 4, 2013, 10:41 AM ET
By Herm Edwards | ESPN Insider

Geno SmithAP Photo/Bill KostrounThe Dolphins' pass rush is one of the most fearsome in the NFL, with 37 sacks this season.

As we head into December, several NFL teams are fighting for the two wild-card spots in the AFC. But the race is really only for that final playoff berth, because even after three straight losses, the 9-3 Kansas City Chiefs are the overwhelming favorites to land the No. 5 seed. And that leaves two teams well-positioned to get the No. 6 seed: the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins.

Even though Baltimore holds the tiebreaker thanks to a 26-23 win over Miami in Week 5, I like the way the Dolphins are playing right now, and I believe they'll make the playoffs on the heels of strong coaching, a good defense and an offense that understands its limitations.

Joe Philbin's coaching job

I can't say enough about the job that Philbin has done to right the ship after the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin incident. That episode extended far beyond football and brought about a national discussion on bullying, a discussion that is still ongoing. As a coach, all that you can control is what goes on in your locker room, and Philbin believed he had a strong enough group of players that could hold up under the media scrutiny and not fall apart. He was right.