If the Dolphins don’t win another game this season, they still will have a very good chance to land the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. But their chances become very tenuous if they win another game. And even if the Dolphins lose their next six games, they would be eliminated from contention for the top pick if the Cincinnati Bengals keep losing every week and Miami beats them Dec. 22 at Hard Rock Stadium.
The Dolphins (1-7) would select fourth if the season ended today, behind the Bengals (0-8) and Washington Redskins (1-8) and Jets (1-7). But losing out would keep them in good position to claim the top pick for these reasons:
▪ In situations where teams finish with identical records, the better draft pick goes to the team that played the schedule with the lowest winning percentage. And the Dolphins hold a significant edge over the Bengals in that area.
Entering the Cowboys-Giants Monday Night Football game, the Dolphins’ opponents were 63-69 (47.7 percent winning percentage). The Bengals’ opponents are 71-56-1 (54.2 winning percentage). That’s mostly because the Bengals play the NFC West — which has three good teams — and the Dolphins play the NFC East, which has been substantially worse.
Many things would need to happen for that to change, including — among others — Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona and the Rams losing most of their out-of-division games and Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia and the Giants winning most of theirs. Dolphins fans should root against the Chargers and Colts, two Miami opponents who are not on the Bengals’ schedule.
The Dolphins also have a strength of schedule edge against Washington, whose opponents are 70-61 (53.8) and 1-7 Atlanta (60.4).
A tie between the Dolphins and Jets would come down to the record of their four non-common opponents — for the Dolphins, the Chargers and Colts (who are a combined 9-9), and for the Jets, the Jaguars and Raiders (who are a combined 8-9), giving the Jets the slightest of edges.
▪ Several of the league’s dregs play each other. The Redskins host the Jets on Nov. 17, so barring a tie, one of those teams will emerge with a second win, if they don’t win another game before then. Also, the Jets play at the Bengals on Dec. 1.
So what should Dolphins fans root for, above all else? That Ryan Finley, the rookie fourth-round pick and new Bengals starter, is very, very good.
If Finley leads Cincinnati to a couple of wins, that’s very good for Miami. And if Finley is exceptional, that would increase the chances of the Bengals taking Ohio State defensive end Chase Young — instead of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — if they pick ahead of Miami.
DOLPHINS TO LEAVE U.S.
▪ The Dolphins’ season-ticket prices, on a per game basis, will stay the same for some seats and be lowered for some, per a source. No prices will go up. Also, the Dolphins will play a 2020 home game in London or Mexico City, meaning the Dolphins will play only seven regular-season games at Hard Rock Stadium next season. Armando Salguero has more here.
▪ The Dolphins on Sunday gave immediate playing time to three players who signed last week: tight end Clive Walford (10 snaps), cornerback Ken Crawley (seven) and cornerback Xavier Crawford (five).
▪ The Dolphins alternated at one guard spot, with Chris Reed playing 51 snaps and Keaton Sutherland 25.
▪ Rookie fullback Chandler Cox played a season-high 12 snaps on offense. Mark Walton (51 snaps) against received substantially more playing time than Kalen Ballage (21 snaps).
On defense, Vince Biegel’s increase in playing time continued. His 56 snaps were second-most among linebackers, behind only Jerome Baker, who played all 70. Biegel again played more than Sam Eguaoven (35 snaps), Raekwon McMillan (32) and Charles Harris and Trent Harris (16 apiece).
Pro Football Focus credited Biegel with four quarterback hits and two hurries and rated him Miami’s third-best defensive player on Sunday, behind McMillan (five tackles) and Charles Harris (one hit, one hurry).
▪ Six days after playing 15 snaps in his Dolphins debut, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche played only three. Among defensive linemen, Taco Charlton played 53 of 70 defensive snaps, with Davon Godchaux playing 49, Christian Wilkins 39 and John Jenkins 31.
▪ The Dolphins allocated most of their cornerback snaps to undrafted UTEP rookie Nik Needham (65) and former Bills and Eagles player Ryan Lewis (61), with Chris Lammons logging 34.
▪ Eric Rowe (68 snaps) played safety for a third consecutive game alongside Bobby McCain (70 snaps), with Jomal Wiltz (61 snaps) playing both cornerback and safety.
▪ PFF gave its top offensive grades to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, tight end Mike Gesicki (caught all six passes thrown to him for 95 yards), right tackle Jesse Davis and receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams (who’s out for the year with a torn ACL).
▪ Fitzpatrick’s outstanding day Sunday included excellent work under pressure. When the Jets blitzed him, he completed six of eight passes for 107 yards and one touchdown.