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Are The Dolphins the New Texans?

Fresh off of Miami’s largest win of the season — and only the team’s second win by more than 7 points — it might seem like an odd time to question the Dolphins. But Miami is now 9-5 and has now only outscored opponents by 1 point. That’s right: it took a 21-point win over the Jets to finally put Miami’s points differential in the black. Miami lost by 32 to Baltimore, which obviously stands out as a big outlier, but the team also lost by 15 to Cincinnati and 13 to Tennessee. And while it doesn’t impact the team’s points differential by much, another loss came by 7 to New England despite a Game Script of -15.6.

A few weeks ago, I asked if the Texans were the worst 6-3 team ever. We may be getting to that point now regarding the 9-5 Dolphins. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Miami has also faced the second easiest schedule in the league this year, behind only the Patriots. Miami gets to face the bad NFC West, the mediocre NFC North, and has had two games against the Jets already. Five of Miami’s nine wins came against the Jets, Browns, 49ers, and Rams, and three more came against below .500 teams. As a result, combine a weak SOS and an average MOV, and the Dolphins have a negative Simple Rating System grade.

The graph below shows each team’s winning percentage on the X-Axis, and SRS on the Y-Axis.  The farther south of the trend line, the more a team is “overachieving” in record relative to SRS (think Miami, Detroit, and the Giants), and the farther north of the trend line, the more a team is “underachieving” in record relative to SRS (think Philadelphia, San Diego, Atlanta).

Here is that information in table form. You can project each team’s record using its SRS by using the following formula:

Expected Winning Percentage = 0.50 + 0.034*SRS

Using that metric, Miami (SRS of -2.2), would be expected to have a winning percentage of 0.425, rather than the 0.643 winning percentage the team actually has. That differential of +0.218 is the largest in the NFL right now, far ahead of Houston (since I wrote that Texans article, Houston is 1-3, with all four games being decided by 8 or fewer points).

TeamRecordWin %SRSExp Win%Diff
Philadelphia Eagles5-80.3853.20.609-0.224
San Diego Chargers5-80.3851.40.548-0.163
Atlanta Falcons8-50.6157.60.759-0.144
New Orleans Saints5-80.3850.60.520-0.135
Jacksonville Jaguars2-110.154-6.50.279-0.125
Cleveland Browns0-130.000-11.60.105-0.105
Chicago Bears3-100.231-5.30.319-0.088
Cincinnati Bengals5-7-10.4230.20.507-0.084
Buffalo Bills6-70.4621.10.537-0.075
Arizona Cardinals5-7-10.423-0.20.493-0.070
Pittsburgh Steelers8-50.6155.30.681-0.066
Minnesota Vikings7-60.53830.602-0.064
Carolina Panthers5-80.385-1.60.445-0.060
Denver Broncos8-50.61550.670-0.055
Green Bay Packers7-60.5382.50.585-0.047
Baltimore Ravens7-60.5382.10.572-0.034
Washington Redskins7-5-10.5773.20.609-0.032
San Francisco 49ers1-120.077-11.80.098-0.021
Indianapolis Colts6-70.462-1.10.463-0.001
Tennessee Titans7-60.538-0.10.4970.041
Seattle Seahawks9-4-10.6792.90.5990.080
Dallas Cowboys11-20.8467.80.7660.080
Los Angeles Rams4-100.286-9.10.1900.096
New York Jets4-100.286-9.40.1800.106
Houston Texans7-60.538-2.20.4250.113
Tampa Bay Buccaneers8-50.61500.5000.115
Kansas City Chiefs10-30.7694.30.6470.122
New England Patriots11-20.8466.30.7150.131
Oakland Raiders10-30.76940.6360.133
New York Giants9-40.6921.40.5480.144
Detroit Lions9-40.6920.80.5270.165
Miami Dolphins9-50.643-2.20.4250.218

One interesting note: as much of an extreme outlier as the 9-5 Dolphins may be, the 5-8 Eagles are just as big of an outlier in the other direction. Philadelphia has outscored teams by 18 points, despite facing the 2nd toughest schedule in the league and despite four straight ugly losses. Through week 10, the Eagles had a points differential of +65 but were just 5-4, and all five Philadelphia wins have come by more than one score.

So which team is the biggest outlier this season: Miami, Philadelphia, or a third team?

  • Adam

    This Dolphins team reminds me of the 2012 Colts, who finished 11-5 with a -30 point differential against a very easy schedule.

  • Adam

    Glad to hear the Patriots have the league’s easiest schedule. It’s always nice when a struggling franchise finally catches a lucky break.

  • Richie

    Come on, man. First decent Dolphins season in 8 years and you have to burst my bubble!