Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa face harsh reality if they lose against the Chiefs.

KANSAS CITY— On Saturday night, Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins will feel the stakes and the weight of their mission when they play the Kansas City Chiefs. This game is a template for the franchise's future.

In the last week of the season, the Dolphins (11-6) lost the AFC East title to the Buffalo Bills after going 2-3 in their last five games. After losing, the Dolphins played the Super Bowl victors at Arrowhead Stadium in one of the coldest NFL games ever.

The Dolphins' failure to beat top teams was a major trend this season. Week 16 saw them defeat the Dallas Cowboys, a winning club. They'll have to address it in the playoffs.

Despite the NFC South's efforts, all playoff teams are winners. A win over the Chiefs would ease worries about how to develop this club as the true challenge begins.

Miami is known as a finesse squad owing to their explosive attack and play-by-play space creation. This week is the time to shed that moniker and build a physicality (every NFL team is physical, the sport requires it).

"You can't prepare for a game like that with that kind of weather, so it'll be new," quarterback Tua Tagovailoa told reporters this week regarding his playoff debut.

About that weather. The game will be played at -10 to -30 degrees with wind chill (retractable roof please!). The Dolphins have lost 10 straight games in temps below 40 degrees and may play in a game 70 degrees colder. The Chiefs will also face terrible weather, although they live nearby. Players can't prepare for this cold, so fair to the Dolphins.

People hate being chilly. We have temperature control "Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel joked with reporters Thursday.

Game clock 60 minutes to define several years ahead. Elimination tournaments in any sport are so exciting because of the stakes, and the Dolphins, looking for their first playoff win since 2000, are nearly boiling as they approach the frigid tundra against one of the league's loudest audience. A win would define the franchise.

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