Expectations are pretty low for the Miami Dolphins in 2017, but this one is a stunner.
According to ESPN’s sports analytics team, it is more likely that the Miami Dolphins end next season as one of the five worst teams in the NFL than make the playoffs.
Yes, according to ESPN metrics, there is an 18.5 percent chance that Miami lands one of the Top 5 picks in the 2018 draft.
If that were to actually happen, fans would be clamoring for the addition of a player like USC QB Sam Darnold, Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, FSU safety Derwin James, LSU running back Derrius Guice or Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
But wait — the Miami Dolphins with a Top 5 pick in the 2018 draft?
That would be an unmitigated disaster, wouldn’t it?
What are these forecasters projecting?
An injury to Ryan Tannehill? An offensive line implosion without Mike Pouncey?
Even worse tackling and pass coverage?
Miami has a tougher schedule and overall, the talent level in Davie is probably on par with last year’s group.
The Los Angeles Rams had the fifth-worst record in the NFL last season.
And they were 4-12. And that got Jeff Fisher fired. And left folks wondering if Jared Goff was a franchise quarterback.
Last season, most forecasters picked Miami to finish 7-9 and they exceeded expectations, at 10-6.
This year, many folks in Vegas are again predicting Miami to finish 7-9.
How much would need to go wrong to move the Dolphins from a 7-9 team to 4-12?
I guess about as much went right for the Dolphins to go from 7-9 to 10-6 last year.
RELATED STORY: [2017 Miami Dolphins: Vegas’ shockingly low over/under win total]
The NFL is a league with a razor-thin margin. That’s why Miami coach Adam Gase has his players wearing shirts featuring “0-0” or “Zero In.”
His mantra, basically, is last year means nothing.
I suppose, he might say, Las Vegas- or Bristol-based predictions mean nothing.
According to ESPN, Miami enters next season as the 23rd-best team in the NFL.
And this is a team with absolute star-power, starting with Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry.
If a team with those four Top 100 players finishes 4-12, would it say more about them or all their teammates?
ESPN gives Miami a 4.1 percent chance to win the AFC East.
There is a 4.1 percent chance I win a Pulitzer next year.
Here, however, are the AFC teams ESPN believes has a better chance to make the playoffs next season than Miami:
• New England
• Kansas City
• Los Angeles
I had to think twice about the AFC franchise in Los Angeles. But yes, that team (the Chargers) has a better chance to make the playoffs, apparently, than Miami.
ESPN says Miami has a 16.7 percent chance to make the postseason.
Suh was recently asked if he is offended by all the negative predictions about the 2017 Dolphins, including all the over/under lines of seven wins.
“I didn’t know that,” Suh said. “Vegas is wrong lots of the time so let’s hope in this instance that they stay wrong.”
Get Dolphins stories right to your Facebook by liking this page