By Greg Stoda Palm Beach Post Staff Writerhttp://www.palmbeachpost.com/sports/dol ... s_dolphins
Posted: 5:40 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010
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DAVIE — The harsh truth is that the Dolphins' 5-4 record looks better than it is.
Because as a tweeter or an e-mailer or a blogger wrote to one of my colleagues the other day, it's the wrong 5-4. Indeed, it is.
An even harsher truth is that Miami could win its next three games (Thursday vs. Chicago at home, at Oakland and Cleveland at home), even with Tyler Thigpen as its starting quarterback, but still be swimming in deep water in terms of AFC playoff qualification.
It's all about the composition of the 5-4 record.
You see, the perspective from mid-November is a whole lot different than it was from early September.
If you told the Dolphins back on Labor Day that their record on Nov. 17 would be 5-4, they likely would have been happy. That's because the season's first half included what appeared to be an abundance of difficult assignments - at Minnesota, New York Jets, New England, at Green Bay, Pittsburgh, at Cincinnati and at Baltimore.
More than a few folks (yes, including me), thought the prospect of the Dolphins managing a break-even record at the middle point of the season, which they did, would have amounted to a great escape.
But that was then.
In hindsight, the Dolphins surely would prefer to trade a couple of their victories for a couple of the losses, specifically wins over the Vikings and Packers for losses against the Jets and Patriots. If so, that would significantly alter the complexion of the AFC East race - a race in which Miami finds itself two games off the pace set by New York and New England.
What it amounts to, quite simply, is that the reward for the wins against Minnesota and Green Bay is appreciably less than the penalty for the New York and New England losses.
The Dolphins' remaining schedule is mostly accommodating - outside of visits to the Jets and Patriots - but, hey, that's a big outside. Asked if he thinks Miami has any margin for error from now to the end of the season, Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown was succinct.
"No," he said.
OK, that's probably an exaggeration, but it's not a substantial one.
Only six AFC teams get to the playoffs and only five teams have a better record than the Dolphins. The rub is that Miami has lost to four of the five teams (Jets, Patriots, Steelers and Ravens), which will put the Dolphins at a distinct disadvantage if head-to-head tiebreakers are needed to sort out the playoff bracket. It's also worth noting that Miami is one of five AFC teams stuck in a 5-4 glut.