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ESPN projects Dolphins ‘most important 2017 game’

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL season is still several months away as teams head toward the end of their offseason training programs with the final rounds of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and their respective mandatory veteran minicamps. Still to come on the calendar is the off period from mid-June through late July, training camps in July and August, and the preseason schedule in August and September, all before we reach a game that has meaning. That does not stop any and all of us from studying the 2017 schedule and trying to find the “easy” and the “hard” games for each team.

ESPN did something similar this week, using their “Football Power Index” to project the importance of each game on all 32 teams’ schedules with regards to that team’s respective playoff chances. Then, they ranked the individual game for each team that had the highest value for a win compared to the highest risk for a loss.

The Miami Dolphins’ top game is their Week 12 contest when the visit the New England Patriots. The 24th most important game in the list, the Dolphins will see a 16.4 percent swing in their playoff chances, according to ESPN’s FPI projections. Explaining the selection of that game as Miami’s most important, Hank Gargiulo writes:

In what will be their most difficult game of the season according to FPI (18.4 percent chance to win), even projecting a victory at Gillette Stadium boosts Miami's playoff probability only to 30.1 percent.

ESPN also lists that game as the most important one on the Patriots’ schedule, with an 8.1 percent swing in playoff chances, even though the FPI sees New England as a near lock to make the playoffs with or without a Week 12 win. Gargiulo writes:

When you are projected to win more than 11 games and no other team in your division is expected to win more than seven, no single win or loss projects as being all that impactful. A home win over the Dolphins ups the Patriots' playoff chances to 97.7 percent, but a loss drops them to only 89.6 percent. Still, by the numbers, it's New England's single most important game.

Would you consider the Dolphins at Patriots Week 12 game the most important game for the Dolphins this year?


Is the Week 12 game at the New England Patriots the most important game in 2017 for the Dolphins?

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