OK, so the Miami Dolphins are 5-7 and there’s a chance they still could make the playoffs as the wildest of wild-card teams.
The urge to reach for the delete key is so strong after typing that sentence, you have no idea.
I’ll stay strong, though, and let it stand, if only because it is technically, mathematically, hallucinogenically true.
We know it is because a website called PlayoffStatus.com stays up with this stuff, and the wizards there have verified that, as of this moment, there is less than a 1 percent probability that the Dolphins will break their seven-year postseason drought.
The Bills, just one win better at 6-6, are given a 27 percent chance of grabbing the final AFC wild-card spot. You remember Buffalo, the team that’s already beaten Miami twice this season.
Interesting, in a useless trivia sort of way, understanding that the 2-10 Cleveland Browns are the only AFC team officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Forget all the probabilities on all the things that need to fall Miami’s way, however, and trust this trend instead.
No 5-7 Dolphins team has ever made the playoffs. In fact, no Miami team worse than .500 at this stage of the season ever has.
Here’s the list of wins and losses through 12 games for every Miami team that ever made the playoffs, followed by the season’s final record. Left out is 1982, when a strike limited the season to nine games. Also note that prior to 1978 the NFL played 14-game regular seasons.
Season Dolphins through 12 gms Final record
1970 8-4 10-4
1971 9-2-1 10-3-1
1972 12-0 14-0
1973 11-1 12-2
1974 9-3 11-3
1978 8-4 11-5
1979 7-5 10-6
1981 7-4-1 11-4-1
1983 8-4 12-4
1984 11-1 14-2
1985 8-4 12-4
1990 9-3 12-4
1992 8-4 11-5
1994 8-4 10-6
1995 6-6 9-7
1997 7-5 9-7
1998 8-4 10-6
1999 8-4 9-7
2000 9-3 11-5
2001 9-3 11-5
2008 7-5 11-5
In case you’re wondering about that Dolphins team that started 6-6 in 1995 and made the playoffs just the same, here’s how it went.
The AFC East had five teams at the time, with Indianapolis included with today’s more familiar mix. Buffalo won the division title at 10-6 and both the Colts and Dolphins got wild-card spots at 9-7 each. The other wild-card went that year to San Diego, also 9-7.
If Miami had won at Buffalo in the next-to-last regular season game rather than losing 23-20, it would have been the Dolphins winning the division. So what happened?
The same two teams met in the opening round of the playoffs, and Miami lost at Buffalo again, this time by 37-22. Oh, and the Bills rushed for 341 yards that day, an AFC playoff record that still stands 20 years later. A short while later Don Shula was replaced as Dolphins coach by Jimmy Johnson.
Wanted to provide a happier ending to this blog but these are the facts. Mediocre teams aren’t really meant for the playoffs, and today’s Dolphins still have some work to do before they get to mediocre.