If the Dolphins don't win another game this season, they still will have a very good chance to land the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. But their chances become very tenuous if they win another game. And even if the Dolphins lose their next six games, they would be eliminated from contention for the top pick if the Cincinnati Bengals keep losing every week and Miami beats them Dec. 22 at Hard Rock Stadium.
The Dolphins (1-7) would select fourth if the season ended today, behind the Bengals (0-8) and Washington Redskins (1-8) and Jets (1-7). But losing out would keep them in good position to claim the top pick for these reasons:
- In situations where teams finish with identical records, the better draft pick goes to the team that played the schedule with the lowest winning percentage. And the Dolphins hold a significant edge over the Bengals in that area.
Entering the Cowboys-Giants Monday Night Football game, the Dolphins' opponents were 63-69 (47.7% winning percentage). The Bengals' opponents are 71-56-1 (54.2 winning percentage). That's mostly because the Bengals play the NFC West - which has three good teams - and the Dolphins play the NFC East, which has been substantially worse.
Many things would need to happen for that to change, including - among others - Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona and the Rams losing most of their out-of-division games and Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia and the Giants winning most of theirs. Dolphins fans should root against the Chargers and Colts, two Miami opponents who are not on the Bengals' schedule.
The Dolphins also have a strength of schedule edge against Washington, whose opponents are 70-61 (53.8) and 1-7 Atlanta (60.4).
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A tie between the Dolphins and Jets would come down to the record of their four non-common opponents - for the Dolphins, the Chargers and Colts (who are a combined 9-9), and for the Jets, the Jaguars and Raiders (who are a combined 8-9), giving the Jets the slightest of edges.
- Several of the league's dregs play each other. The Redskins host the Jets on Nov. 17, so barring a tie, one of those teams will emerge with a second win, if they don't win another game before then. Also, the Jets play at the Bengals on Dec. 1.
So what should Dolphins fans root for, above all else? That Ryan Finley, the rookie fourth-round pick and new Bengals starter, is very, very good.
If Finley leads Cincinnati to a couple of wins, that's very good for Miami. And if Finley is exceptional, that would increase the chances of the Bengals taking Ohio State defensive end Chase Young - instead of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa - if they pick ahead of Miami.
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