DAVIE, Fla. — A winning season is out of reach for the Miami Dolphins, which means the playoffs probably are, too.
The Dolphins (6-8) will finish at .500 or worse for the eighth time in nine years and will likely spend January on the couch, even if they sweep their final two games at Kansas City and at home against Buffalo.
Despite the faintest of prospects, coach Adam Gase anticipates incentive won’t be a problem for his players the rest of the way.
“I would hope they would be very motivated,” Gase said. “They are playing for their jobs.”
Gase said the games to come will be part of evaluations this offseason, which is where the Dolphins are rapidly headed. They’re two games out in the AFC wild-card race and have a 3 percent chance to reach the playoffs, according to fivethirtyeight.com.
A 24-16 loss Sunday at Buffalo all but finished off the Dolphins.
“We knew everything that was at stake, and we didn’t make it happen,” receiver Jarvis Landry said.
The Dolphins’ also-ran status is no surprise, because they’ve showed only flashes of looking like a playoff team.
After ending a postseason drought a year ago, Miami has been outscored by 90 points in 2017 and ranks 28th in offense, 17th in defense, 30th in turnover differential and 31st in penalties.
Inconsistency has been the Dolphins’ hallmark. They beat last season’s Super Bowl teams, New England and Atlanta, and have lost to three teams with losing records — the Buccaneers, Jets and Raiders.
No player has been more up-and-down than quarterback Jay Cutler, who threw three touchdown passes last week to help upset the Patriots, and then had three interceptions and four fumbles at Buffalo.
“Not one of the best days he has had,” Gase said.
Cutler came out of retirement when Miami lost Ryan Tannehill to a season-ending knee injury, and now is likely heading into the final two games of his career.
Cutler is tied for second in the NFL with 14 interceptions, and ranks 32nd in yards per attempt. He has been sidelined twice this season because of injuries and acknowledged the mixed bag of a season.
“Anybody that loses games gets frustrated,” he said. “I think it’s hard not to say. But I love playing with these guys. We have a great coaching staff. We have a lot of talent there and it makes it fun to go to work.”
And Cutler predicted the Dolphins will give a good effort in the final two games, even if they’re primarily spoilers against two teams in the AFC playoff scramble.
“It’s a great locker room,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to have any issues with guys shutting down.”
Playing out the string in late December is an all-too-familiar task for the franchise, which has been maddeningly consistent when it comes to year-to-year results. Miami’s win totals since 2009: seven, seven, six, seven, eight, eight, six, 10 and now six.
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