If the Dolphins get swept by the the Jets on Sunday, they cannot be realistically considered a playoff team.
This is not an editorial statement.
It’s an historical fact.
The Jets have played the Dolphins, Patriots or Bills 335 times over a combined 168 seasons.
And in all of those years, teams that New York beat twice in the same season have made the playoffs just eight times.
It has not happened since 2001. It did not happen once between 1979 and 1997. It happened just twice between 1960 and 1977.
And nearly half of the times a team has gone 0-2 against the Jets and still reached the playoffs happened in the same fluky 1998 season, when the Jets, Dolphins, Patriots and Bills all made the playoffs.
So yeah, it’s rare.
That is the uphill battle awaiting the Dolphins (3-2) if they lose to the Jets (3-3). A single game separates all four teams in the AFC East.
FootballOutsiders.com put the Dolphins’ chances of making the playoffs at 11.8 percent after Week 6. If they lose to the Jets in Week 7, those numbers will probably approach zero.
They would be 0-2 in the division, 2-2 in the conference and own no tiebreakers against the Jets.
Then there are the other seven AFC team with three wins heading into Sunday’s action. This is not just parity. It’s a complete free-for-all.
“I have no idea,” Adam Gase said Friday, when asked about the standings. “I’m not worried about anybody else. We’ve got to worry about us.”
Well, they have to worry about the Jets, too. At least for a few more days this year. And even if Jarvis Landry could barely bring himself to say their name earlier in the week.
A reporter asked Landry to play a word association game. When he hears New York Jets, he thinks ...
Landry then got serious.
“I mean, look, this has been a rivalry game for a long time and I’m excited to be a part of it and be on this side of it,” he said. “We look forward to it. It’s a division game and, for us, we want to continue to make our way of taking over the division and really setting the tone inside of the division as well. To have played these guys twice, being the first team in our division that we’ve played twice this soon, we look forward to evening it out, 1-1.”
The Dolphins did one better than that last year — and their 2-0 record against both the Jets and the Bills in 2016 was decisive in ending an eight-year playoff drought.
Most expected a same sweep of the Jets in 2017. New York, by all appearances, planned to tank. But the players and coach Todd Bowles had other ideas. They have won three of their last four games, and the only loss was because of a questionable call last week against the Patriots.
The Jets dominated the Dolphins in all phases of the game when they met last month. And based on familiarity alone, the Jets probably will be no pushover this time around, either.
“You get in division games, we’re playing these guys — when you include all of them — we’re playing six of our 16 games,” Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi. “It’s a common opponent, there’s a lot of carryover. I think the teams know each other very well in the division, so I think that’s why, not just in our division but in most divisions, you find out these division games end up being a lot closer and end up being really good games.”
Rizzi added: “These division games are obviously very, very important when you stack them up at the end of the year in terms of postseason and things like that, so there’s a little bit more, certainly, in these division games, no question about it.”
A half-century of history has proven Rizzi right.