Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are simultaneously cursed and historically lucky. We explain.

The bounces have just not gone Miami’s way recently — and that’s in the game that has been close.
The bounces have just not gone Miami’s way recently — and that’s in the game that has been close.

If you believe in curses, the Dolphins fit the bill.

They have lost their starting quarterback twice in the past 12 months — and their backup has missed a game too.

They got run out of town in Week 1 by Hurricane Irma, losing both their home opener and their midseason bye.

Their offensive line coach became a national embarrassment. Their starting inside linebacker disappeared the night before the his first game.

Two starting linebackers, their starting right tackle and a potential starting cornerback are all out for the season.

Yes, the glass has been half full, but the half with liquid in it is arsenic.

Then again, they made the playoffs last year and are still alive this year, even though sabermetricians would argue they have been one of the worst teams in football over the last two seasons.

The Dolphins are 14-11 under Adam Gase for one reason: They have gone 12-3 in games decided by seven points or fewer. That is ridiculous.

And not sustainable, number-crunchers argue. They tend to level out over a long enough time line, and that worm may have turned already, as a 27-24 loss to Oakland snapped a 12-game winning streak in such games.

And here is the best way to explain why the Dolphins’ record has been better than how they have played: They tend to win their close games and get annihilated in games they lose.

Their average margin of defeat in their 11 losses under Gase? Seventeen points.

The Dolphins’ point differential this year is brutal. They have been outscored by 87 in nine games, the fourth-worst differential in football. They are minus-104 since Gase took over.

So what does that mean in real football terms?

They have wildly overachieved in each of the last two years. Bill James, a pioneer in advanced statistics, has developed a formula that produces a win expectation based on points scored and points allowed.

Using the Dolphins’ output, they have won four games more than they should have under Gase — two in each year.

So the Dolphins are more like a 2-7 than they are a 4-5 team — which might not mean much for the games already played, but it does give a hint of what’s to come. And it helped explain why Dolphins-Buccaneers Sunday is a pick ’em — even though the Dolphins are playing at home, against a 3-6 team without its starting quarterback.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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