NFL Playoffs 2016: Miami Dolphins, New York Giants Postseason Bound?
The Miami Dolphins and New York Giants have five-game win streaks with a cupcake game coming up. Are they actually bound for the 2016 NFL Playoffs?
With wins over the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams respectively, the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins have both reached winning streaks of five games. Coming up in Week 12, they also happen to be playing the two worst teams in football. New York plays the Cleveland Browns with Miami facing the San Francisco 49ers. We can’t guarantee dueling six-game winning streaks, but let’s do so anyway.
After rattling off a string of victories, should we believe in either football team? Are the Dolphins and Giants postseason bound this season? The 2016 NFL Playoffs are up for debate.
New York’s winning streak is a bit suspect. Four of the five wins came at home. The fifth was a neutral-site win in London. All five were by seven points or fewer. The Giants are taking advantage of what was laid out in front of them, including the next game against the Browns, but that makes their 7-3 record a bit misleading. Though they have the third-best record in the NFC, their point differential only ranks ninth in the conference.
Miami is 6-4 with the 10th-best point differential in its conference. Their winning streak, though, seems slightly more legitimate. The Dolphins won twice on the road during the streak and had a dominating win over the Steelers to kick off the five-game run.
Of course, that’s about as good as things get for Miami. The rest of their schedule (after playing San Francisco) is brutal, as is the playoff picture in the AFC. The Dolphins are two games behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East, already with a head-to-head loss in the matchup. They also trail the AFC West teams in the wildcard chase and have just a one-game cushion on the meat of the mediocre.
The Giants are arguably worse than the Dolphins (Football Outsiders had Miami ranked 10 spots ahead of New York in DVOA last week) but have a much better chance of making the postseason because the NFC is so weak.
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They too trail their division leader by two games, but New York has the head-to-head advantage over Dallas at the moment. It also currently holds the first Wild Card spot in the conference all by itself. After the top couple teams, there just isn’t much depth to the NFC this year. That’s why New York had a 57.1 percent chance of making the postseason even before it won in Week 11.
I’m not confident in saying that either of these teams is any good. But circumstances are aligning for the Giants to make the postseason whether they are or not. The same cannot be said for Miami. I’d say the Giants are in, the Dolphins are out and neither is as good as a five-game winning streak would imply.
Neither the Miami Dolphins or New York Giants pass the eye test. Does either team look like a legitimate playoff team this season? No, they do not. Miami was down 10-0 to the Rams before pulling its season off life support with a late game rally for the win. New York looked solid at times, but their defense could not stop the Bears, arguably the third worst team in the league.
The Dolphins and Giants may not look the part, but I believe both teams make the NFL Playoffs. Being better than average is truly saying something this season. Just look at the teams who we thought were good, should be good, must be good, and are not. The middle of each conference is a crowded mess, but both Miami and New York find themselves atop the pile and in control.
I’m actually a bit more concerned about the Giants remaining schedule than I am Miami’s. After facing the Browns, New York must play two of it three division opponents on the road. Pittsburgh on the road is no easy task either. But considering the Giants’ losses are all to solid teams, they likely split their final six games and finish with a 10-6 record. No one is catching New York in the NFC Wild Card race.
Miami has a game to cover in order to catch the Denver Broncos and/or Kansas City Chiefs for an AFC Wild Card berth. Yet their remaining schedule plays right into their hands. After San Francisco, the Dolphins get Baltimore, Arizona and the Jets. That’s at least two, if not three, more victories. None of those three teams are any good, let alone on a consistent basis. Finishing their season against Buffalo and New England is a challenge, but I think they’re up to the task.
I like the Dolphins to reach a 10-6 record which is good enough for a playoff berth in the AFC. Both the Broncos and Chiefs may pass the eye test, but their schedules are too much to overcome. They play one another twice still. Denver must also face the Patriots and Raiders, while Kansas City gets the Raiders and Falcons. I like Miami’s chances against its AFC East competition as opposed to the AFC West slaughterhouse.