Dolphins Rumors

Poll: Who Will Be AFC’s No. 6 Seed?

Five AFC teams have separated from the pack and look to be moving into the playoffs. While much could change, it would be surprising to see a January without the Chiefs, Patriots, Steelers, Chargers and Texans.

But with the NFL requiring six teams to participate in each conference’s postseason bracket, this leaves an interesting race for what will probably be the AFC’s No. 6 seed. There are five five- or four-win AFCers entering Week 11. Each has between a 19 and 41 percent chance of securing a playoff berth, per Football Outsiders.

The Titans have become the leader in this pursuit, with Football Outsiders giving the resurgent team a 41 percent chance to make the playoffs. They qualified last season for the first time since 2008 and notched one of the NFL’s better wins this year in pummeling the Patriots 34-10. The Titans’ No. 16 DVOA placement is third among the AFC’s middle-class teams, but their defense leads the NFL in points allowed (16.8). After entering Week 9 with just three touchdown passes, Marcus Mariota threw two in each of Tennessee’s two November wins.

At 5-4, the Titans could knock the Texans (6-3) down into the No. 6 seed conversation as well. As could the Colts, potentially.

Andrew Luck was a frequent conversation topic while he recovered from a career-threatening injury, but now that he’s back, the former No. 1 overall pick has been delivering a borderline-dominant season off the grid. Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes have understandably dominated the MVP discussion, but Luck’s 26 touchdown passes — at least three in six straight games — rank second in the league. The Colts (No. 15 DVOA, 18 percent playoff odds) gave off an obvious rebuilding vibe this offseason but have an outside shot at the playoffs. Their only games against winning teams down the stretch are against the Texans and five-win Titans (twice).

The AFC North’s fringe contenders have endured humbling midseason stretches. The Bengals (playoff odds: 21 percent, No. 21 DVOA) and Ravens (32 percent, No. 7 DVOA) are a combined 1-5 in their past six contests. Cincinnati’s without its best player, with A.J. Green nursing a foot injury, and Baltimore looks set to start either Lamar Jackson or Robert Griffin III against the Bengals on Sunday.

The Bengals’ opportunities against top-tier opposition could not have gone worse, with both the Chiefs and Saints posting at least 45 points, but they did play the Steelers close and at 5-4 are still firmly in contention. Baltimore’s defense ranks second in points allowed (17.8), giving the Ravens a major edge on their rivals’ 31st-ranked unit, and the Ravens played the Saints much closer than Cincy did in a one-point defeat. The Bengals have three road games left against winning teams — the Ravens, Chargers and Steelers — but the Ravens also venture to Kansas City and Los Angeles, complicating matters.

Football Outsiders gives the Dolphins a 19 percent chance at playoff qualification. Tied for the longest Super Bowl odds entering the season, Miami booking its second postseason berth in three years would be an obvious surprise. All five of the Dolphins’ losses came by double digits, and Ryan Tannehill‘s uncertain status clouds their second-half outlook. They rank outside the top 20 in DVOA offense and defense. While they do play the Bills twice in December, their Patriots rematch and a Minnesota trip also loom.

Can a long-odds team creep back into this? The Jaguars were picked by many to repeat as AFC South champs, but they’ve lost five straight. The Broncos are still ninth in DVOA, but close losses — and three combined games against the Chargers and Steelers — likely doom them. Do the Browns (3-6-1) have faint hope?

So, who is going to round out the AFC bracket? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your take in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/15/18

Today’s practice squad updates:

Dallas Cowboys

  • Signed: DL Aziz Shittu

Jacksonville Jaguars

New York Giants

New Orleans Saints

Miami Dolphins

Washington Redskins

Dolphins Audition QB Paxton Lynch

The Dolphins worked out free agent quarterback Paxton Lynch on Wednesday, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link).

Lynch has tried out for a number of teams — eight, at last count — since being cut by the Broncos earlier this year but has yet to land a contract. Miami could be an interesting destination, however, as the club only has two healthy quarterbacks in Brock Osweiler and David Fales. Presumptive starter Ryan Tannehill is tentatively projected to return in Week 12, but his health has been anything but a certainty throughout his career.

Lynch, the 26th overall selection in the 2016 draft, was beaten out twice for the Broncos’ starting quarterback job by former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian. In two years with Denver, Lynch managed to start only four games, completing 61.7% of his passes for 792 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. Among the 52 quarterbacks who attempted at least 125 passes during those two seasons, Lynch ranked 41st in passer rating and 46h in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Miami also auditioned wide receivers Tavarres King and Tre McBride today, per Balzer, but given that the club signed pass-catcher Brice Butler (who was also part of the workout), King and McBride don’t seem likely to land with the Dolphins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Sign WR Brice Butler

The Dolphins signed Brice Butler to fill their open roster spot, according to a team announcement. At minimum, the wide receiver should help to replenish a group that has been dinged by injuries.

[RELATED: Dolphins Promote OL Isaac Asiata]

With DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant sidelined, Butler may be one of four healthy receivers heading into Nov. 25th’s game against the Colts. On the plus side, the Dolphins can use their bye week to heal up.

Butler rejoined the Cowboys this year after his signing with the Cardinals did not work out. He talked a big game in free agency, but he’s appeared in just one game through ten weeks of the season.

To his credit, the well-traveled pass-catcher averaged 21.1 yards per catch last season with Dallas. That season also marked a new career high in yards (317) and matched his previous watermark for touchdowns (3).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/13/18

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Dolphins Brass On Hand For Herbert

  • Top brass from both the Giants and Dolphins are at the Oregon-Utah game today to scout quarterback Justin Herbert, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (Twitter link). Eli Manning and Ryan Tannehill both have uncertain futures with their respective teams, so it makes sense why they’d be taking a look. Herbert is widely considered the best quarterback prospect who’s draft eligible, but is reportedly considered unlikely to enter the draft after this year.

Dolphins Promote OL Isaac Asiata

With three offensive linemen on the injury report for this weekend’s game against the Packers, the Dolphins have added some reinforcement. ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe reports (via Twitter) that Miami has promoted offensive guard Isaac Asiata from the practice squad. To make room on the roster, the Dolphins waived linebacker Martrell Spaight.

Dolphins left guard Ted Larsen is currently listed as doubtful, while fellow linemen Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James are both listed as questionable. In comes Asiata, a 2017 fifth-round pick out of Utah. The 25-year-old only appeared in a single game as a rookie, and he was waived by the organization prior to this season.

He subsequently caught on with the practice squad, where he’s spent the entire season. For the time being, Asiata will slide into the bottom of the depth chart with fellow bench linemen Zach Sterup, Jake Brendel, Sam Young, and Wesley Johnson.

Spaight, 25, had spent the first three seasons of his career with the Redskins. This included a 2017 campaign where he compiled 75 tackles and two passes defended. He was surprisingly cut by Washington at the end of the preseason, and he caught on with the Dolphins in mid-September. He proceeded to play in four games with the Dolphins, compiling a single tackle. With Spaight out of the picture, Stephone Anthony and Mike Hull are now the Dolphins’ lone backup linebackers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ryan Tannehill Expected To Return In Week 12

Although Ryan Tannehill won’t be available when the Dolphins face the Packers this weekend, he’s expected to return to action after Miami’s Week 11 bye, head coach Adam Gase told reporters today (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Tannehill hasn’t played since Week 5, as a shoulder injury has forced the Dolphins to turn to backup Brock Osweiler, who’s posted a 2-2 record with Tannehill on the shelf. Miami has been reticent to release any sort of timeline on Tannehill’s recovery to this point, so the mere fact that the club has highlighted a possible return date is seemingly good news.

NFL Workout Updates: 11/6/18

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account unless otherwise noted:

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

  • LB Christian Kuntz

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Oakland Raiders

  • T Roubbens Joseph (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle)

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

Latest On Dolphins, Reshad Jones

On Sunday, Dolphins safety Reshad Jones raised eyebrows when he pulled himself out of the game after just ten plays. The decision, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes, could be extremely costly for Jones. 

The Dolphins reserve the right to fine a player for up to four paychecks for conduct detrimental to the team. If the Dolphins bring the hammer down on Jones, that would cost him upwards of $200K while voiding his future guarantees. Per the terms of his five-year, $60MM extension he inked in 2017, that would mean losing out on $35MM in guarantees over the next three years.

That’s one potential outcome. Another potential outcome is an overhaul of the coaching staff that could cost defensive coordinator Matt Burke his job. The Dolphins contained the lowly Jets on Sunday, but the defense allowed 74 points in its previous two games and signs of discord have been apparent all season.

[Jones] came up and talked to me last night,” head coach Adam Gase said Monday. “He came up to the office and we talked. We’re still kind of going through a couple of things. I need to talk to a couple of people. Me and him are on the same page right now. … I have an idea of a lot of the things that happened.”

Jones’ outburst came after he was told that he would be splitting time at safety. Gase surely isn’t on board with Jones’ actions, but it sounds like he’s not on board with Burke’s game plan either.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.