Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com, a website specializing in political predictions, dabbles in sports, too. Are you interested in how the numbers nerds see the Miami Dolphins in 2016?
Let’s start by saying that there is no exact science in this arena, no matter how much data is entered and how it gets augmented and tweaked. Last year, for instance, the FiveThirtyEight machine predicted that the Dolphins would win 7.5 games. They won six.
All the same, it gives a picture of how each team is viewed nationally, and the view on Miami is not especially good.
According to the algorithm soup that Silver’s group has cooked up from 100,000 game simulations, the Dolphins finish last in the AFC East with an average of 6.4 wins.
Miami’s chances of making the playoffs are listed at 15 percent. The chances of winning the division drop to 8 percent and winning the Super Bowl? That’s less than 1 percent.
Oh, and Seattle is given an 82 percent chance of beating the Dolphins in Sunday’s season opener. Sorry to drop that on you, but anyone who has read this far down in the blog is tough enough to take it.
Meanwhile, the Patriots, even without Tom Brady for the first four games, come out as division favorites with 9.8 wins. That’s below their usual output but not low enough to bring the Jets and Bills into the equation.
Not to worry. Carolina was given a 3 percent chance of winning a championship in last year’s Silver computer solution, right along with Detroit and San Francisco. The Panthers made it to the Super Bowl anyway, and once they got there were favored by Las Vegas to win it.
That’s how it goes with computers. Garbage in. Garbage out.
If you’re wondering where the FiveThirtyEight name originates, 538 is the total number of electoral college votes in a U.S. presidential election. Like I said, politics is the real focus of Nate Silver’s best work.