The Dolphins' surprising 'strength of schedule' ranking doesn't tell the whole story

How about a little respect for Miami?
Carolina Panthers v Miami Dolphins
Carolina Panthers v Miami Dolphins / Rich Storry/GettyImages

The Miami Dolphins may not know when they will be playing their 2024 opponents yet, but they know who and what their strengths are. released the rankings for the 2024 strength of schedule ahead of next season and the upcoming schedule release on May 15. The Miami Dolphins, surprisingly, are ranked quite low on the list. How is this possible?

In the AFC East, the Dolphins have the 'easiest' schedule in the division. They rank tied for the 24th toughest schedule. The S.O.S. is based on opposing win-loss totals from the previous season. Miami's cumulative records of their 2024 opponents are 141-148, or .488. The Cardinals, Seahawks, and Buccaneers all have the same S.O.S.

The Bills are tied at No. 6. They will face teams with a cumulative record of 149-140 or .516. The Patriots are tied for eighth, and the Jets are tied at No. 12. Miami will face six teams that made the playoffs last year: Green Bay, Buffalo, San Francisco, Cleveland, the L.A. Rams and Houston. They will also play the Seahawks, Colts, and Jaguars, who all finished 9-8 and narrowly missed the playoffs.

Miami's 2024 S.O.S. is brought down by the Titans who finished 6-11, the Jets who finished 7-10, and the Cardinals who finished 4-13. Of course, we can't leave out the Patriots' 4-13 record either. On paper, the Jets should be one of the more improved teams in the league this year, if Aaron Rodgers stays healthy that is.

The S.O.S. won't hold much importance at the season's start, but it does come into play in deeper playoff tie-breaking scenarios. It also plays a big role in draft slotting. S.O.S. is the primary tie-breaking procedure to determine draft seeding among teams finishing with identical records.

Will the strength of schedule have any implications on who makes the NFL playoffs?

Technically, the answer is no. The S.O.S. may be a tie-breaking procedure after several other procedures have been used. Teams that are lower on the S.O.S. will play more teams with bad records from previous seasons, while teams with a higher S.O.S. will play more playoff teams. In theory, it is supposed to give bad teams a better chance to improve.