The 7-5 Miami Dolphins are currently holding down the sixth and final wild card in the AFC after dismantling the pass-challenged Jets 16-13 on Monday night. They’re actually tied with five other teams for the right to postseason action, but get the nod if the playoffs started today because of some whacky tie-breaking procedures, which you can gloss over here.
Yet the NFL season does not end today, and Miami’s playoff picture still looks murky with four games remaining in a league where any team on any given Sunday, regardless of perceived power, has a legitimate chance to knock off anyone. Outside of a few elite teams (think Denver) and porous ones (those smelly Raiders), this is a league full of ridiculous parity and randomness.
Below are the playoff odds for all teams that have not been eliminated in the AFC, courtesy of Football Outsiders.
Denver — 99%
Indianapolis — 96%
New England — 93%
Cincinnati — 65%
Kansas City — 55%
Miami — 47%
Baltimore — 45%
San Diego 38%
It’s funny how the 8-4 Chargers have lower odds than the division-rival Chiefs at 7-5, until you see that their remaining schedule features the Patriots, Broncos, 49ers, and Chiefs. Miami has no excuse to miss the postseason again this year, but it could take a month of perfection to secure a playoff berth for the first time since 2008, the fluky Wildcat year.
While the usual assumption is that 10 victories is enough to get in the playoffs, this often hasn’t been the case and almost certainly won’t be this year. Dating back to 2004, seven NFL teams have won 10 or more games and missed out on the playoffs. Even the 11-win Patriots MISSED the playoffs in 2008. Expect another franchise or two to be added to that dreadful list of 10 empty wins this year.
For the Dolphins, the road is simple — beat the Ravens, Patriots, Vikings and Jets (with all being in Miami except for the Patriots game) and they’ll get in, finally sticking a knife in the perpetual mediocrity that has been permeating through this franchise for the better part of the last 12 years.
Lose once and their playoff picture becomes less clear. But today, heading into Week 14, the odds favor the Miami Dolphins. As they did last year heading into the closing stretch.
My gut tells me they finish 10-6 and miss out on the playoffs because, as anyone who regularly watches this team can tell you, this has been the Dolphins’ way. Why should we assume this year will be different?
Follow Josh on Twitter (@JoshBaumgard)
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