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In the Playoff Picture? Yes ... Kind Of

The Dolphins have turned things around in 2021, but they basically have to win out to pull off an NFL first

We've gotten to the point of the season where we see during NFL broadcasts the graphics breaking down the playoff picture in both the AFC and the NFC, and in some of them this past weekend the Miami Dolphins actually were included.

It's not something that was expected after the Dolphins started the season 1-7, particularly given that no team has ever made the playoffs after such a start.

But there's also never been a 17-game regular season before, so the Dolphins have that going for them.

But the reality is the Dolphins basically have used up all margin for error if they hope to make the playoffs in 2021, based on probability figures put together by projection website fivethirtyeight.com.

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The Dolphins have gotten their record to 5-7 on the strength of their four-game winning streak and their next two games are against the New York Giants and New York Jets, who are 4-7 and 3-8, respectively, before they close out the regular season with road games against New Orleans and Tennessee and the home finale against the New England Patriots.

If the Dolphins somehow were able to run the table for what would become a nine-game season-ending winning streak and finish 10-7, their chances of making the playoffs would be at 83 percent, according to fivethirtyeight.com.

But that figure drops to between 6 and 17 percent with just one loss and to 0.1 percent with two losses and an 8-9 record.

At 9-8, the Dolphins' chances would be at 17 percent if the loss were against either the Giants or Saints; at 11 percent against the Jets; at 10 percent against the Titans; and at 6 percent if the loss were against New England.

Looking at the AFC standings, the Dolphins currently are only a game and a half out of seventh place (and the final playoff spot), which belongs to the 6-5 L.A. Chargers. The problem for Miami is that there are five other teams in between: Cleveland (6-6), Pittsburgh (5-5-1), Indianapolis (6-6), Denver (6-5) and Las Vegas (6-5).

The Dolphins' current chances of making the playoffs are at 9 percent, according to fivethirtyeight.com. It's obviously not encouraging, but we suppose somebody could look at it like this: They were at 1 percent after that 1-7 start.