The Miami Dolphins, by every metric but one, are not a very good football team.
Lucky for them the only stat that matters when it comes to playoff seeding is wins. And they’ll have at least 10 of them when their magical season gets extended for the first time since 2008, finding victory in nine of their last 10 games.
Yet they’re average any other way you slice it, including in all three phases of football, per Football Outsiders’ overall efficiency metrics. The offense ranks 14th, the defense ranks 17th, and special teams ranks 11th.
Their margin of victory of 0.3 is incredible mediocre, ranking lower than any other AFC playoff team outside the godawful Houston Texans (-2.8). This is despite a schedule that ranks as the second easiest in the NFL this season, per Pro Football Reference. Only one of the team’s 10 wins have come against a playoff team (Pittsburgh) and that was with a gimpy Ben Roethlisberger.
Three of their best players are out in Reshad Jones, Mike Pouncey and Ryan Tannehill, the latter playing the most critical position in football. They’re five alternate bounces from a 5-10 record and another Top 10 pick.
Barring a bizarre change of events, they’re going to be playing on the road in the opening round against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a balanced and experienced team (Top 10 in offense and defense) with the best QB-RB-WR combo in football. Roethlisberger has two Super Bowls to his name, Jay Ajayi is a hammer to Le’veon Bell’s lightsaber, and Antonio Brown makes Jarvis Landry look slower than a line at the DMV.
The point of all this isn’t to defecate all over your hope, Miami Dolphins fan. I, like you, want this team to win. I want to be wrong. The point isn’t merely to illustrate it’s HIGHLY unlikely the Dolphins will be playing beyond the opening weekend of the postseason. The point is to remind you this team will be playing with house money.
With that comes no pressure because they already maxed out their season, which should absolutely be considered a success, even with another game to play. They appear to have found an A coach in Adam Gase and a franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill — a blueprint for sustained success.
But this postseason there should be no expectations. Anything the Dolphins do from here on out is a bonus.
There’s no reason to be disappointed when the football gods pump the brakes on this whacky and most unpredictable ride. And even if the reality check doesn’t come in Pittsburgh, where they will likely be seven-point underdogs at minimum, it is indeed coming despite what Cocky Dolphins Fan tells you.
Average teams do not win Super Bowls.
Enjoy the stress-free experience. Hope for the best.
But remember that when the team’s luck inevitably runs dry in the coming weeks, The 2016 Miami Dolphins have already won.