The Miami Dolphins are in the middle of the AFC Playoff picture, currently holding the sixth seed position and, if the Playoffs started today, they would be in the postseason for the first time since 2008. That said, the Playoffs do not start today, which means there are still football games to be played before the final Playoff picture turns into Playoff berths. There are five weeks worth of games to be played, and the Dolphins have their work cut out for themselves if they are going to hold on to that Wildcard position - or even make a charge for the AFC East division title.
Our friends over at Silver and Black Pride went through the AFC Playoff contenders and calculated the opponent winning percentage (aka strength of schedule) remaining for each team. The Dolphins rank right in the middle of the 10 teams either in Playoff position, or within 1.5 games of a spot.
1. Chiefs (8-3): @ATL, OAK, TEN, DEN, @SD (.607 opponent win percentage)
1a. Broncos (7-4): @JAX, @TEN, NE, @KC, OAK (.607 opponent win percentage)
3. Raiders* (9-2): BUF, @KC, @SD, IND, @DEN (.564 opponent win percentage)
4. Ravens* (6-5): MIA, @NE, PHI, @PIT, @CIN (.555 opponent win percentage)
5. Titans (6-6): BYE, DEN, @KC, @JAX, HOU (.522 opponent win percentage)
6. Dolphins (7-4): @BAL, ARI, @NYJ, @BUF, NE (.509 opponent win percentage)
7. Patriots* (9-2): LA, BAL, @DEN, NYJ, @MIA (.491 opponent win percentage)
8. Bills (6-5): @OAK, PIT, CLE, MIA, @NYJ (.446 opponent win percentage)
9. Steelers (6-5): NYG, @BUF, @CIN, BAL, CLE (.425 opponent win percentage)
10. Texans* (6-5): @GB, @IND, JAX, CIN, @TEN (.363 opponent win percentage)
*team is currently leading their division
The good news for Miami is, the teams most likely to claim a Wildcard position, other than the Dolphins, are facing tougher schedules than Miami the rest of the way. The Kansas City Chiefs currently hold the fifth position while the Broncos are behind the Dolphins based on tie breakers. Both teams have to face the Oakland Raiders, who are tied with the New England Patriots for the best record in the conference, and the Broncos still have the Patriots on their schedule as well. The two teams will also face off one more time. All of that means Miami is actually sitting in a fairly decent position, as long as they continue to take care of their own schedule.
The bad news for Miami is, some of the teams chasing them, like the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers, have easier schedules. The Dolphins also need to make up two games on the Patriots if they want to win the division. One of those games can be completed when Miami faces New England at the end of the year, but somewhere, the Dolphins will need to see the Patriots lose another game, and the strength of schedule is below .500 for the Patriots the rest of the way.
To beak down the difference between the Patriots and the Dolphins, New England is facing a combined 27-28 record, while the Dolphins are facing a 28-26-1 record. Given the Dolphins face the 9-2 Patriots, while the Patriots face the 7-4 Dolphins, the two games separating the teams actually cover the difference in their strength of schedules.
The Dolphins have a clear path to the Playoffs. They just have to capitalize on the easier remaining schedule as compared to the Chiefs and Broncos, and hope that New England stumbles somewhere along the way.
AFC Playoff Picture with Strength of Schedule
- New England Patriots (9-2) - AFC East leader (.491 SOS)
- Oakland Raiders (9-2) - AFC West leader (.564 SOS)
- Baltimore Ravens (6-5) - AFC North leader (.555 SOS)
- Houston Texans (6-5) - AFC South leader (.363 SOS)
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) - Wildcard 1 (.607 SOS)
- Miami Dolphins (7-4) - Wildcard 2 (.509 SOS)