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The 2016 Miami Dolphins Get to the Playoffs Because...

Many of us have tempered expectations for this year, and that's absolutely fair. If we do happen to shock the world, how do we pull it off?

Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports

Look, at my core, I'm a fighter. My mind is telling me to take the high road for the Miami Dolphins in 2016, and drift down the "scholarly road" to fandom, seeing myself as beyond the emotionally-driven psychopaths that feast on an exclusive diet of wins. I tell myself, "this is a big year to evaluate Ryan Tannehill and the future of our QB position" or "it's a great opportunity to see which young guys develop" or "we have a new coach and, finally, we're going to see some progress". I also know myself well enough to know that after I have 3 beers before the game starts, I'm going to be foaming at the mouth for a delicious win and nothing will quench my thirst other than beer and a win. I can't resolve my jadedness with my quest for NFL domination.

Instead of fighting my homerism, I decided to come up with a most fantastic "what if" game. What if the 2016 Miami Dolphins make the Playoffs? How do we do it? Here are the 3 most-likely-to-be-proven-absurd possibilities for the Miami Dolphins to make it click and play beyond Week 17 for the first time since 2008:

#1: We win the turnover battle

Is it ironic that 2008 was the last time we were in the top 13 in turnover margin? (We happened to be #1: +17). Being #1 in the league in turnover margin and timely QB play was the recipe in 2008. Since then, Miami has ranked:

  • 2009: 27th (-8)
  • 2010: 30th (-12)
  • 2011: 24th (-6)
  • 2012: 25th (-10)
  • 2013: 18th (-2)
  • 2014: 14th (2)
  • 2015: 18th (-3)
Just looking at that gives me whiskey d**k. In the last 7 years, we've only finished in the top half of the league once, and in that same year, gave us the only season we actually had a positive total turnover margin during that time span. As a young pup, I wrote a FanPost on how lucky turnovers are, and how much the turnover discrepancy determines the fates of games and seasons. Let's just say, when you consider the law of averages, you'd like to think that one of these years we will be successful in the turnover margin (sigh).

#2: We go 4-2 or better in the AFC East

For a team that went 1-5 against the AFC East in 2015, that's quite a task. Yet, the challenge remains. A win in Foxborough Week 2 over a hopefully-overwhelmed Jimmy Garroppolo would certainly go a long way. Laremy Tunsil's drop in the NFL Draft allows us to match up better with the formidable defensive fronts of the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and New England Patriots*. My concern in each and every one of these contests is whether we can establish the run and stop the run.

#3: We are lucky when it comes to injuries

We've had recent seasons of playing desperate players in desperate situations because of the injury bug. Every team goes through it to certain degrees, and I certainly hope the 2016 Miami Dolphins show that our depth has improved. For a young team with a new coach, new offensive coordinator, and new defensive coordinator, in a kind of new stadium, and a polarizing quarterback, a new draftee being satiated into media controversy, and a tough 2016 regular season schedule - it certainly wouldn't hurt to not be hurt.

I trust you have some other ideas to how we can pull off a Playoff appearance. Does Ryan Tannehill go berserk under Adam Gase? Does Jay Ajayi carry the running game? Do our defensive additions, combined with Vance Joseph, improve the defense considerably? Please know that I understand the Playoffs is unlikely, borderline crazy, (Playoffs?), but delve into the loony bin with me and give me a reason that we overcome the obstacles and make South Florida and the rest of Dolphins Nation proud.