How good are Miami’s dolphins?

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You all remember the famous Bill Parcells line, don’t you? “You are what your record says you are”?

That one.

Does this still apply when your record is 8-7, but you hit that mark after losing seven times in a row and then winning seven times in a row?

Are you still an 8-7 team? Or are you something more because you’re 8-7 but in the middle of an amazing streak?

Also, does it matter who you fight during this winning streak? And should that matter?

All of these questions apply to the Miami Dolphins as they head into the final two weeks of the 2021 NFL regular season, because the bottom line is we still don’t know how good they are.

We also still don’t know if this is a legitimate playoff team or just a team that got hot and enjoyed a flexible schedule.

No matter how you cut it, a seven-game winning streak is a seven-game winning streak and it’s still impressive and, furthermore, the Dolphins could only face the teams on their schedule.

It’s not their fault that nearly all of their weaker 2021 opponents were scheduled in this single streak.

THE DOLPHIN WINS SERIES

But no one – looking at you, Dolphins fans – should be insulted that the show played a part (maybe a big part) in the streak.

Let’s be honest, the streak started with a game against Houston that featured ugly performances from both teams and the Dolphins may not have beaten so many teams that day.

The Dec. 19 game against the Jets was similar – but not as ugly – and the Dolphins were lucky to win that one as well.

In 15 games, based on their opponents’ combined winning percentage, the Dolphins have had the easiest schedule in the NFL. Opponents of the Dolphins have a combined winning percentage of 0.444, with Cincinnati and Atlanta tied for second at 0.451.

And of the 17 NFL teams with the most winning records, only the Philadelphia Eagles (combined winning percentage of 0.354 for teams they beat) have weaker winning strength than the Dolphins (0.375).

Opposing starting quarterbacks during the streak were Tyrod Taylor, Lamar Jackson, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, Mike Glennon, Zach Wilson and Ian Book.

That’s why domestic pundits are expressing skepticism about the Dolphins’ legitimacy as playoff contenders. Longtime NFL reporter Michael Silver asked after the six of seven-game winning streak if a six-game winning streak had been even less impressive – then the Dolphins defeated the massively exhausted Saints on Monday night.

The flip side, however, is that we can talk whatever we want about the severity of the Jets, but they still beat Tennessee and Cincinnati; and the Texans have always defeated the Titans and Chargers.

So again, a seven-game winning streak is a seven-game winning streak.

CAN DOLPHINS AVOID THE 2020 REPEAT?

But, naysayers aside, is it possible that the skeptics are also looking at these 2021 dolphins and remembering their last picture of the 2020 dolphins?

The Dolphins were a 10-5 team when they went to Buffalo in their regular season finale, simply needing to win to advance to the playoffs, but instead looked like a team that had massively outperformed and n ‘didn’t belong in the playoffs as they got blown 56-26.

Don’t think for a second that the 2020 season finale isn’t at least a factor in how the Dolphins are viewed and how they have to produce a “quality” win to earn that national seal of approval.

The Dolphins have beaten two teams this season that currently have winning records – New England and Baltimore. And even then the Patriots got off to a 2-4 start and the Dolphins escaped that game thanks to the late recovery of Xavien Howard. And the Baltimore game took place on a Thursday night, which still strongly favors the home team.

Beating Tennessee would be completely legitimate in the eyes of the national media and erase any doubt about the 2021 Dolphins.

At least it should.

A win over New England in the regular season finale, now that the Patriots have turned the tide and are heading into the playoffs, would do the same.

The bottom line, from this point of view, is that you don’t win seven games in a row – regardless of the opponent – without being a quality team, a good team.

But are dolphins more than that? Are they a great team?

Unfortunately, we just don’t know that yet. The next two weeks will provide that answer.

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Kehoe Young

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