The Miami Dolphins entered November a 200-1 betting longshot to win the Super Bowl. The same team entered this Thanksgiving Week down to 66-1 odds.
OK, now let’s sober up from all of that Thanksgiving drinking and enter the real world, where the talk is not of winning it all but of the Fins simply making the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Day-dreaming is wonderful and all, but reality has its points, too.
The current five-game win streak to put Miami at 6-4 has elevated the Dolphins into the plausible postseason conversation. At 1-4 it was lunatic talk. Now, no. So let’s reconnoiter:
Miami entered Week 12 seventh in the jockeying for six AFC spots, with a 45.8 percent chance to make it, according to trusted computer site makenflplayoffs.com.
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Pluses for the Dolphins: 1) Denver and Kansas Cty, one game ahead of Miami, play each other Sunday night. 2) Indianapolis, one game behind, is missing quarterback Andrew Luck because of a concussion.
Negatives: The closing schedule. After an expected win Sunday vs. the 1-9 49ers, ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Miami only the following likelihood in its final fives games: 42.1 percent at Ravens, 51.1 percent vs. Cardinals, 46.0 percent at Jets, 28.6 percent at Bills and 37.6 percent vs. Patriots.
Miami, realistically, must close out 4-2 to finish 10-6. That would make the Fins 88.8 percent likely for the playoffs, according to makenflplayoffs.com, while a 3-3 close for 9-7 would halve the estimate to 43.2 percent.
Got all that? Quiz in the morning.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Here’s a milestone neither the NFL nor Titans will be bugling, but Jeff Fisher is closing in on all-time record for most coaching losses. The mark is 165 by Dan Reeves. Fisher has 162. The most losses by coaches who have never won a championship finds Reeves and Fisher 1-2, followed by Chuck Knox (147), Marty Schottenheimer (126) and Norv Turner (122).
▪ Keep hearing how this supposedly is a down year for NFL. Hmm. Not if you like close games. There have been 123 within one score in fourth quarter, the most at this point in a season. By a lot. Also record pace for most games decided by eight points or fewer and seven or less. And the 47 games won by a team trailing in fourth quarter are most since 1989.
▪ Canton calling? Ravens’ Steve Smith became only player in history with at least 1,000 career catches, 1,000 punt-return yards and 2,000 kickoff-return yards.
▪ Cardinals’ David Johnson has 100-plus scrimmage yards in all 10 games. Only others ever to do that: Larry Brown in 1972 and Old Cane Edgerrin James in 2000 and ’05.
▪ Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald with a catch Sunday would extend his receptions streak to 190 games in a row. The only longer streaks: 274 by Jerry Rice and 211 by Tony Gonzalez.
▪ Patriot Tom Brady’s next win will tie Peyton Manning’s NFL record for most by a starting quarterback: an even 200.