Can the Miami Dolphins still make it to the playoffs? It’s tempting to give one short and simple answer: no. But at the time of writing, that’s not entirely correct. Certainly, if you go to the best Super Bowl 2020 betting sites then you may not see the Dolphins up there as contenders. But some sites are still taking bets on the Dolphins to win the Super bowl, albeit at a cool 100,000-1.
For all their reputation as the worst team in the league this season, the Dolphins haven’t actually been eliminated from the running. There are still plenty of games to go, and a combination of sudden losing streaks for virtually every other team plus an equally sudden turnaround in the Dolphins’ form could conceivably see them win the eastern division.
This would of course secure the Dolphins a place in the playoffs. If the run of unlikely outcomes continued, they could in theory still get to the super bowl in February. And then some freak of nature might actually mean they won the league. It is extremely unlikely, but just like the earth being struck by a meteor tomorrow, it could still happen.
Everyone loves an underdog
That’s the beauty of the NFL of course, as reflected in the title of the film Any Given Sunday. It’s foolish to write off any team too soon, even ones that seem to have “losers” written all the way through them. In fact, if Hollywood sports movies have taught us anything, it’s that the serial losers are exactly the teams you shouldn’t write off. America loves an underdog, and we love to see them turn their fortunes around at the last minute and go on to win against all the odds.
Will this happen to the Dolphins in real life? The odds are, obviously, against it. That’s what “against all the odds” means. But once again we repeat, it’s not impossible.
A Season from Hell
After losing to the Buffalo Bills in Week 11, the Dolphins chances of making the playoffs were less than 1%. They are, to be honest, teetering on the brink of being eliminated. To put it mildly, they have not had a great season. They started as they meant to go on, losing seven straight games in a row. Then, in week nine, they beat the New York Jets. For any other team, beating the Jets would be about as unremarkable as swatting a fly from your windscreen – you’d power through without even noticing it. But for the Dolphins, this 26-18 victory was a milestone. The tide was turning! They were on their way to the Super Bowl!
This surge of confidence carried the Dolphins through to week 10, when they won again, this time against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts? Joking aside, this was quite impressive. A 16-12 victory over the team most likely to win the Southern Division was not something to sniff at. Maybe the Dolphins’ 2019 season was going to play out like a Hollywood underdog sports movie after all?
Or maybe not. A 20-37 trouncing by the Bills the very next week popped the brief bubble of optimism surrounding the Dolphins. A hundred momentarily dazzled pundits shook their heads, muttered “what was I thinking?” and returned to safer ground where the Dolphins were unmitigated losers.
Once they were kings
It’s worth reminding ourselves at this point that this wasn’t always this way. The Miami Dolphins were kings back in the 1970s, and in fact were a credible team right up until the current century. But with the retirement of coach Don Shula and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, it’s fair to say they lost their way spectacularly.
The rosy memory of the Dolphins’ ’70s glory days was all but eclipsed by their 1-15 season in 2007, the worst in the franchise’s history. It’s a year they’ve yet to live down, even though they bounced right back in 2008 to win the Eastern Division, only to lose to the Baltimore Ravens in the wild card playoffs. It was a similar story in 2016, when they won 10 games, came second in their division, and lost the wild card playoffs to the Steelers.
Let’s gloss over suggestions that the Dolphins are deliberately not trying in 2019 in the hope of getting a better draft position. But let’s maybe recognize that the Dolphins have their eye on the long game. They’ve already added up enough draft picks to completely rebuild over the next two years and have jettisoned expensive dead weight. So the honest answer to the question of whether the Dolphins can make the super bowl is not this year. But in two, three, five years’ time? Just watch this space.