Since 2000, the Miami Dolphins have only appeared in five playoff games. During that span, they have gone 1-4, with their lone win coming in an overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts during the 2000 campaign.
This season, the drought was expected to continue. With rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sidelined due to a hip injury, most expected the Dolphins to continue their rebuild entering the 2021 season. However, that has not been the case.
Since taking over at the start of November, the Dolphins under now 2-0 under Tagovailoa’s command. The opponents Miami have defeated along the way include the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals in a combined +14 point differential.
With the Buffalo Bills sitting with a record of 7-2, the chances that the 5-3 Dolphins secure an AFC East title seems to be wishful thinking at this time. However, the Wild Card race in the AFC allows for an interesting conversation. With the latest rule change as well, an additional franchise will make the playoffs.
As it stands, the Dolphins sit with a 37% chance to make one of the Wild Card spots this season. Here are how some of the other contenders stack up:
- Las Vegas Raiders: 77%
- Cleveland Browns: 56%
- Indianapolis Colts: 11%
While Miami isn’t currently viewed as the favorites, there are reasons to be hopeful. This includes their remaining schedule, which features five of their final eight opponents holding losing records. With that, the determining factor for the Dolphins could be on their performance during the final four weeks of the season:
- vs Kansas City (8-1)
- vs New England (3-5)
- @ Las Vegas (5-3)
- @ Buffalo (7-2)
Among the rest of the NFL, the Dolphins have the eighth-easiest remaining strength of schedule.
Clearly, there are still improvements that Miami needs to make. Their offensive line ranks among the worst in several categories, which has resulted in a lack of run game this season. As it stands, running back Myles Gaskin leads the team in rushing with 387 yards; 24th in the NFL. Behind him, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 135 yards on the ground is the next-highest team total.
In the receiving game, star receiver DeVante Parker has taken a step of regression over the last several weeks. His last game of 65+ receiving yards came on October 4th against the Seattle Seahawks. Since Tagovailoa has taken the starting job, wideout Preston Williams has been the leading receiver with 75 receiving yards across the last two games.
The core of this team however has been the defense. The team currently allows the fourth-least amount of points per game (20.1); just as much as the Pittsburgh Steelers through Week 9. In comparison to the previous season, the Dolphins points per game allowed has improved by 21.2%.
Perhaps one of the most impressive players on the defensive side of the ball has been Emmanuel Ogbah, who agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with the team in March. He has totaled 0.5+ sacks in each of the last seven games this season.
Entering the second half of the season, every team has flaws. The Dolphins are no different. However, this is a team that is led by Coach of the Year candidate Brian Flores and has a new sense of hope under Tagovailoa. If they can secure three wins in the next four games, then Miami is in serious contention for a Wild Card spot.