Greg Cote

Dolphins’ playoff drought explained: a franchise not takin’ care of business

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked and fumbles to ball as Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (55) recovers in the third quarter. Buffalo Bills host the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y. on Sun., Nov. 8, 2015.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked and fumbles to ball as Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (55) recovers in the third quarter. Buffalo Bills host the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y. on Sun., Nov. 8, 2015. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Dolphins play their first division home game of the season on Sunday, which, naturally, calls to mind the annoyingly infectious 1974 Bachman-Turner Overdrive hit song, “Takin’ Care Of Business.”

Why? Simple. For NFL teams the concept of taking care of business primarily means two things. 1) It means winning within your division, because those games make up almost 40 percent of your regular-season schedule and the results pretty much count double. And 2) it means protecting your home field, or taking advantage of what is supposed to be your advantage.

Miami has not lately done either of those things well. The Dolphins have not been taking care of business where they most fundamentally must, and it explains why the team, at 2-4 entering Sunday’s home date with Buffalo, is on pace for an eighth straight season out of the playoffs.

Let us quantify:

Since 2009, when the ongoing postseason drought began, Miami’s record in division games has been 17-26 (.395), which ranks 26th among 32 teams and last in the AFC East. The division breakdown is 7-7 vs. the Jets, 6-8 vs. the Bills and 4-11 (including a loss earlier this season) vs. the nemesis Patriots.

The Fins’ overall home record since then is 27-31 (.466), which ranks 25th overall and last in the division. In the paramount test of division games at home, Miami is only 10-11.

One more. The Dolphins since 2009 are 16-32 (.333) in games immediately following a win, indicative of a team unable to create (let alone sustain) momentum. That ranks 30th in the NFL, last in the division.

All three of these things are in play Sunday here as the Dolphins are at home, vs. Buffalo, following a victory.

It is the perfect opportunity for this franchise to either stay in its rut or to make a declaration and do what it has not been doing for a long time: Takin’ care of business.

SCATTER-SHOOTING THE LEAGUE

▪  Didn’t take long. Two games back from suspension and Patriots QB Tom Brady has catapulted to favorite in MVP race, at 5-2 odds, via Bovada. Falcons’ Matt Ryan is now second at 15-2. Pats also are Super Bowl faves at 3-1, followed by Vikings 7-1 and Seahawks 15-2. Dolphins are now 200-1, up from 500-1. Woo-hoo!

▪  The 50 games (of 92) decided by seven points or fewer are tied with 1999 for the most ever entering Week 7.

▪  Saints’ Drew Brees had his 15th career 400-yard game last week, surpassing Peyton Manning’s 14 for most all time.

▪  Patriot Rob Gronkowski had his 22nd career 100-yard game. Among tight ends, only Tony Gonzalez (31) and Kellen Winslow (24) have had more.

▪  Indy’s Adam Vinatieri has made 41 consecutive field goals dating to last season. NFL record is 42 straight by Colts’ Mike Vanderjagt in 2002-04.

▪  Cowboy super-rookies: Dak Prescott (176) surpassed Brady (162) for most pass attempts without an interception to begin one’s career. And Ezekiel Elliott’s 703 rushing yards are second most ever in one’s first six games. Only Eric Dickerson (787) had more.

▪  Seahawk Russell Wilson reached 50 career wins in his 69th game. Only Ken Stabler (62) and Brady (65) did it in fewer games.

▪  Old Cane Frank Gore of Colts keeps building his case for Canton. This season he’s leaped from 15th to now ninth in all-time rushing, with 12,474 yards.

▪  Pro Bowl voting has begun on NFL.com. Vote early and often. Also, prematurely.

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