The Miami Dolphins have improved to a game over .500 thanks to a four-game winning streak. They have also managed to not only climb into the playoff picture for the AFC, but they actually are the first team outside the current playoff standings, and just two games out of claiming the AFC East lead. It has been an impressive run for Miami, and one that, every single week as of late, improves their chances for actually making the postseason tournament, something they have missed every year since 2008.
Just how much have the Dolphins improved their playoff chances each week? Thanks to FiveThirtyEight, we can track the team’s chances of making the playoffs based on their weekly results.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s playoff odds chart, every NFL team starts with a 39 percent chance to make the playoffs.
The Dolphins started the season with a 12-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. While the Dolphins had a chance to win the game, and it felt like a “moral” victory, it still mad the team 0-1 on the year. A team with an 0-1 record falls from 39 percent chance of making it to the playoffs down to 25 percent.
The Dolphins then suffered a 31-24 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 2. Again, the game seemed like one the Dolphins could have won, but came out on the wrong side of the scoreline as the clock ran down. Miami was 0-2, but they were only beaten by nine total points in those first two weeks against two teams believed to be Super Bowl contenders (even if the Patriots were playing their second- and third-string quarterbacks in the game). With the second loss to start the year, Miami dropped to a 12 percent chance of being in the postseason.
The Dolphins snuck out a 30-24 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, a game that they would have lost if the Browns could have made a field goal. The optimism of good showings in the first two weeks suddenly evaporated. Feeling good after two losses and feeling bad after a win is a very confusing situation. The Dolphins, at 1-2 on the year, moved their playoff chances back up to 25 percent.
Miami played three of their first four games on the road, with all three against 2015 playoff teams. It was a rough gauntlet to start a season, and Miami fell for the third time, this time with a 22-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The loss pushed Miami to 1-3 on the year and down to 15 percent chance to make the playoffs.
After the three-of-four road games start, the Dolphins returned to Miami in Week 5 for the first of four-straight home games. The Titans were expected to be an “easy” game foe Miami, but it did not play out that way for the South Florida franchise. Instead, Miami saw a 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, A 1-4 record dropped Miami to their worst playoff chances of the year, at just 5 percent.
The Dolphins finally found their rhythm with a surprising 30-15 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The upset featured the first 200-yard rushing performance from running back Jay Ajayi and put some life into Hard Rock Stadium. Improving to 2-4 on the season pushed Miami’s playoff chances up slightly, reaching a 9 percent mark.
It did not take long for Ajayi to find his second 200-yard rushing performance, becoming just the fourth running back in history to record back-to-back 200-yard performance. He did it this week with a 28-25 win over the Buffalo BIlls. Miami pushed up to 3-4, a game under .500 and their bye week standing between them and the New York Jets. With a 3-4 record, Miami’s playoff chances rose to 19 percent.
Could the Dolphins keep up the momentum after sitting out a week? Could they handle the number one rush defense in the NFL? Both of those questions turned out to be unnecessary worries for Dolphins fans as they beat the New York Jets 27-23. Ajayi did not reach the 200 yard mark for a third consecutive game, which would have been an NFL first, but he still made 100 and kept Miami’s offense moving - and on the field so the defense could rest. At 4-4, the Dolphins jumped up to a 33 percent chance.
This past Sunday, the Dolphins faced the challenge of flying all the way across the country to play the San Diego Chargers. Both teams came to the game hoping to keep their playoff chances alive and the Dolphins, winning their fourth straight, were able to do just that. They did it well enough that, for the first time this year, they actually have a better chance to make it than they have a chance to miss the postseason. A 31-24 win over the Chargers pushed Miami to 5-4 on the season and to a 52 percent chance of breaking into the postseason.
You can find the entire playoff percentage chat below.
And, if the Dolphins were to win on Sunday in their Week 11 contest against the Los Angeles Rams as they turn over the offense to rookie quarterback Jared Goff, the playoff chances jump to 62 percent chance, while a loss would see them fall to 29 percent.