Week 16: The Dolphins are rooting for a bunch of teams to lose.
Week 17: The Dolphins are rooting for a bunch of teams to win.
Life really does come at you fast.
Miami’s playoff hopes ended with a thud in Kansas City.
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The Dolphins’ consolation prize? A realistic, if not likely, chance at a top-10 draft pick.
Sunday's loss dropped the Dolphins to 6-9, and if the season ended Christmas morning, they would pick 11th in April's draft.
Of course, the season did not end Monday. There were still 18 games left to play, including two involving the Raiders, who could leapfrog the Dolphins in line by losing out.
We all know that draft order is selected by reverse record; the more losses you have, the higher you pick. But what breaks ties? Strength of schedule; the better your opponents, the lower you pick.
And unfortunately for the Dolphins, they have played a really good collection of teams this year. Their opponents, as of Monday morning, had won a combined 54.4 percent of their games; that was fourth-toughest in the NFL (again, as of Monday morning).
So even if they lose to the Bills Sunday (kickoff has been moved to 4:25 p.m.) and all of the teams a game ahead of them win — Denver, San Francisco, New York and Chicago are all 5-10 — it's hard to see the Dolphins moving up too much.
The Broncos, currently sixth, have a .485 winning percentage. Forget about the Dolphins catching them. The streaking 49ers (seventh, .521) are probably out of reach, too. And while the Dolphins could conceivably pass the Jets (eighth, .523), that only happens if New York beats the Patriots in Foxboro.
Then there are the Bears (ninth, .555), whose schedule has been even harder than Miami's. But they need to win in Minnesota against the playoff-bound Vikings who are playing for seeding.
The Dolphins' best chance to get into the top 10? Have the Bengals (tenth, .464) beat the Ravens in Week 17. The problem with this scenario? It is a meaningful game for Baltimore, which is in a three-way race for two Wild Card spots.
Depressed yet? We're just getting started.
The Dolphins could actually pick as low as 15th if everything goes wrong.
Step one of this doomsday scenario is beating the Bills at home. That opens the door for teams to jump them.
The Raiders (6-8, .506 as of Monday morning) have arguably the toughest finish of any team in the Dolphins' neighborhood. They finish at the Eagles (12-2) and Chargers (8-7).
The Cardinals (7-8, .487), Redskins (7-8, .536) and Packers (7-8, .536) are also nipping on the Dolphins' heels.
If all three lose in Week 17 and the Dolphins win, Miami could indeed end up with the 15th selection.
The lowest non-playoff teams can pick is 20th.
The Dolphins have had a selection in the top 10 just twice since 2009 (they took Ryan Tannehill eighth in 2012 and Dion Jordan third the following year).