After flying away from the Mile High City sky-high from a 26-17 victory over a Broncos team that had been 15-3 following byes, the 4-4 Dolphins find themselves just one game behind the top of a bunched-up AFC East division with a winnable three-game homestand on the agenda.
First comes an injury-racked 2-6 Seahawks team with a lame-duck coach and a quarterback named Seneca Wallace. Then it's the dysfunctional 2-6 Raiders, who were just shut out at home by the juggernaut Falcons.
Even the following game against the once-powerful 5-3 Patriots is now as scary as a Joe the Plumber costume on Halloween. Tom Brady's in a cast somewhere, and New England's cast of injured running backs is now led by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Who?
By the way, the Dolphins tore the Patriots to shreds last month in Foxboro with the unveiling of the "Wildcat" formation in a 38-13 victory.
And following the homestand, the Dolphins eventually will get to face three other moribund franchises, the Rams, Chiefs and 49ers, who are a combined 5-19. Two of the three already had their coaches fired, and the third (Kansas City's Herm Edwards) is on the hot seat.
How does a 10-win season and a trip to the postseason sound, Tony?
"We went into the season feeling like we had just as good of a chance to put ourselves in the mix as anyone else did," Sparano said. "I don't know right now whether or not that's where we are, but I know that today we wake up and we're one of (16) teams right now that have four or five wins in this league. We just kind of threw ourselves into the middle of something here and ... created an opportunity to have a real big game at home this week.
"I want them to have those expectations, I do. I'm not going to hide from those things. I tell them every day I want them to go out and compete. I tell them every day that we don't go into games to compete; we go into games to win. If we're going into games to win and we're going in there with that kind of philosophy, then I think that when you put yourself in the middle of this stuff, you've got to look at these things."
-- The Dolphins held the Broncos to 14 rushing yards on 12 carries to break a franchise record that was set 42 years ago when they held the Raiders to 16 yards.
"Our coach challenged us. He said that we haven't been stopping the run, That was our goal today ... and that made their offense one-dimensional," LB Joey Porter said.
-- By beating the Bills and Broncos back to back, the Dolphins knocked off two division leaders in a row for the first time in their 43-year history.
"This is one of the biggest wins we've had in a couple of years," CB Will Allen said. "Coming into this game into a hostile environment against a good team that was coming off a bye -- it's big. It really shows the character of this team."