Monday, December 18, 2017

Miami Dolphins Path To The Playoffs

Believe it or not, 8-8 can still get us in but not 7-9 so we absolutely must win next week at KC and then win at home against Buffalo. We would then have a division record of 3-3 and an AFC record of 7-5, which is our saving grace.

Before looking at all the possible tie breaker scenarios, of which there are many, here are the 7 teams still in the hunt for the final Wildcard spot, their records, their AFC records, and their two remaining games:

Chiefs (8-6, 5-4) host Miami and at Denver
Titans (8-6, 7-4) host both Rams and Jags
Bills (8-6, 6-4, currently 2-2 in division) at both Pats and Miami
Ravens (8-6, 6-4) host both Colts and Bengals
Chargers (7-7, 4-6) at Jets and host Raiders
Raiders (6-8, 5-6) at both Eagles and Chargers

Here are the NFL playoff tie breaker rules:

BREAK A TIE WITHIN A DIVISION

If, at the end of the regular season, two or more clubs in the same division finish with identical won-lost-tied percentages, the following steps will be taken until a champion is determined.

Two Clubs

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in common games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

Three or More Clubs

(Note: If two clubs remain tied after third or other clubs are eliminated during any step, tie breaker reverts to step 1 of the two-club format).
  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in common games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

BREAK A TIE FOR THE WILD-CARD TEAM

If it is necessary to break ties to determine the two Wild-Card clubs from each conference, the following steps will be taken.
  1. If the tied clubs are from the same division, apply division tie breaker.
  2. If the tied clubs are from different divisions, apply the following steps.

Two Clubs

  1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  4. Strength of victory.
  5. Strength of schedule.
  6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best net points in conference games.
  9. Best net points in all games.
  10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  11. Coin toss.

Three or More Clubs

(Note: If two clubs remain tied after third or other clubs are eliminated, tie breaker reverts to step 1 of applicable two-club format.)
  1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two Wild-Card participants.
  2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in conference games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss
When the first Wild-Card team has been identified, the procedure is repeated to name the second Wild-Card, i.e., eliminate all but the highest-ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. In situations where three or more teams from the same division are involved in the procedure, the original seeding of the teams remains the same for subsequent applications of the tie breaker if the top-ranked team in that division qualifies for a Wild Card birth.
The only scenarios at 8-8 that hurt us would be if after the tie breakers are applied we are left standing against either ONLY Baltimore and Oakland since Baltimore beat both the Raiders and us OR ONLY Oakland and Tennessee since the Raiders beat both Tennessee and us. We could survive any other combination including all four us at 8-8 since Baltimore lost to Tennessee and we beat Tennessee.  Then no one swept or lost to all and our AFC record would put us over the top.

Now the AFC West is between only the Chiefs and Chargers with the Chiefs holding the tie breaker by beating the Chargers twice. If one or two of them ends up at 8-8, we will have tie breakers against those two based on AFC records.  If all Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers end at 8-8, Chiefs win the Division and Raiders move forward into tie breaker with other 8-8 teams from the other divisions.

Although, these following teams can all finish at 8-8, we can only afford to have one of these following teams finish at 9-7: non Chiefs/Chargers division winner, Bills, Ravens or Titans. Only one of those 4. Every one else must finish at 8-8. If two finish at 9-7, we are out.

We would have the tie breaker against the Bills at 8-8 with a better division record so the Bills at 8-8 would be eliminated leaving us to move forward in the tie breakers with other 8-8 teams.

The Ravens probably aren't going to lose two at home but the other teams could easily fall to 8-8.

Hope is still alive and after losing Tannehill, our opener moved and having a very tough schedule, 2017 could end up being a gem of a season.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dol-Fan since 12/25/1971

Dave's take: franchise direction

I still wonder about the direction of the franchise.  I popped out to https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/mia/ and I saw the last time the franchise was a perennial state of winning was wannstedts last year, in 2003.

And they went from 2001 to 2008 without a playoff appearance (and from 2003-08 without a winning record). You might consider 2008 as an aberration, because that was the year Brady got hurt, and Pennington came to Miami.

Then they went 7 years, again with non-winning records, until the playoff appearance last year. Was that a one year aberration, or are things trending the same?

In that same 14 year span, the dolphins only had a positive point differential 4 times, all by small margins (1, 28, 16, and 15) which for a season isn't so good.  John madden would call this kind of thing a "keeper stat" - its a way to gauge the team instead of wins and losses, and Xs and Os.  It tells you something about the team.

In the 14 years, they've had some large margins against them.  In the 1-15 season it was -170, meaning they lost each game by a margin of 10 points on average (and yes they did have a win by 6 points, which makes the stat a little worse in terms of losses).

In context, when they were +16 in 2011,  or -18 in 2013, or -17 last year, it means that they were winning (and losing) by close margins; about a point a week.

This year, they are at -90, so they are losing by an average of 6 points per week.

But given the trend, I have to question if the team is headed in the right direction.  They can't seem to figure out how to consistently score more points than their opponents.

Contrast that with patriots who have had point differentials that were positive, and in the hundreds every year in that same span, except for two seasons where the point differentials dipped lower.

Injuries surely play a role, but there's something about the players themselves or how they are coached that isn't getting it done.

Its like my dad always said "if you can't score more points than the other team, you don't deserve to win."