I’m not sure which of these two truisms is harder to believe:
That the Miami Dolphins are in the playoffs. Or that I have a chance to get my Super Bowl pick right because both of my preseason teams remain alive.
Miami was last invited to the NFL’s postseason party in 2008, and I have bull’s-eyed only two SB champs in 26 seasons of Miami Herald predictions, so let’s call that a draw.
Alas, I’ll need a little luck for my pick (Steelers over Packers) to come true, and the Dolphins will need a lot of it for their run to last long. Ranking the 12 playoff teams on the likelihood they’ll be champions come the night of Feb. 5:
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1. New England Patriots: Sorry, Dolfans, but after all this time Tom Brady and Bill Belichick still form the axis on which the NFL revolves. Top seed, home field, best team.
2. Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and home throughout NFC run makes ’Boys likely to reach first Super Bowl in 21 years.
3. Atlanta Falcons: The defense still isn’t that good, but when likely league MVP Matt Ryan is putting up 33.8 points per game, you don’t worry much.
4. Green Bay Packers: Cheesers and Aaron Rodgers arrive hot as anybody, with Rodgers 15-0 on TDs/picks in Gee Bees’ six-game win streak.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers: To put Dolphins’ first opponent higher would require a belief Ben Roethlisberger might beat Brady in Foxborough. Nope.
6. Seattle Seahawks: Beware. Russell Wilson and defense are playoff-tested, and this team is capable of beating any of three NFC teams ranked above.
7. Kansas City Chiefs: This might be low for Alex Smith’s No. 2 seeds, but K.C. has won only one playoff game since 1993.
8. New York Giants: Big dropoff here, from seven teams with a fighting chance to five with far less. But defense (of all things) gives NYG a prayer.
9. Detroit Lions: Ended season with three consecutive L’s, but Motown keeps games close and Matthew Stafford had strong season.
10. Oakland Raiders: A winnable first-round game, but devastating loss of QB Derek Carr means OAK won’t last long.
11. Houston Texas: Houston has 100 percent chance to be hosting this Super Bowl and maybe 1 percent shot to play in it.
12. Miami Dolphins: I’d probably rank Fins as eighth- or ninth-best playoff team, even with Matt Moore. But they’re last here as least-likely Super Bowl champ because their path is brutal. At Pittsburgh followed by at rested New England is a football apocalypse.
Our King Sport 2016 season awards:
▪ MVP: Matt Ryan, Falcons QB — Had 4,944 yards, 38 TDs and 117.1 rating to lead surprise team to No. 2 seed. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers close second. Only others with argument: Patriots QB Tom Brady, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott.
▪ Offensive POY: David Johnson, Cardinals RB — Where MVP factors team success, this is individual award, and Johnson led league with 2,074 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns.
▪ Defensive POY: Von Miller, Broncos OLB — Miller, second in NFL with 13 1/2 sacks, hangs on despite slow finish. Rams DT Aaron Donald, Raiders DE Khalil Mack in mix.
▪ Offensive rookie: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys RB — Led league in rushing, scored 16 TDs. Only teammate QB Dak Prescott is close.
▪ Defensive rookie: Joey Bosa, Chargers DE — Kid out of St. Thomas Aquinas had 10 1/2 sacks in 12 games. Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey my runner-up.
▪ Comeback POY: Cam Wake, Dolphins DE — Packers WR Jordy Nelson may win, but Wake came back from Achilles injury with 11 1/2 sacks at age 34. What more do you want?
▪ Coach of year: Jack Del Rio, Oakland — Dallas’ Jason Garrett or NE’s Bill Belichick might win, but Del Rio took a 3-13 team and in his second year earned club’s first playoff berth since 2002. (No, Miami’s Adam Gase won’t crack top three.)
▪ Dolphins MVP: Jay Ajayi, RB — Wake also is deserving, but reward Ajayi. He was fourth in league with 1,272 yards, averaged 4.9, had three 200-yard games and was catalyst for win streak that ended playoff drought.