The Broncos and the Patriots are playing in a late afternoon game Sunday.
A New England victory would assure that the Dolphins end the weekend in playoff position, because at 9-5, Miami held a half-game edge over the host Broncos (8-5). But if Denver beats New England, they would leapfrog the Dolphins into the final playoff position with only two weeks to go because of a tiebreaker edge.
So Dolphins players were going to take advantage of a rare Sunday afternoon off and … what? Actually root for New England?
“What’d they say?” cornerback Byron Maxwell said. “We need Denver to lose or something like that?”
Yes, Maxwell was told.
“I’m not a New England fan,” he said.
Could he be one for three hours?
“I don’t know,” he said, unable to swallow that pill. “Could a tie help?”
Maxwell wasn’t alone. If the Broncos lost, the Dolphins would accept the assist, but they couldn’t hold their noses and root for such a thing.
“I play for the Miami Dolphins, man,” defensive end Andre Branch said. “Whatever happens, we just control what we do.”
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James agreed.
“Nah,” he said of pulling for a division rival. “I’m not even into that. What’ll help us is winning one game at a time.”