Going into the 2015 NFL season, there really are only two forseeable outcomes for the season for the Miami Dolphins. Unless something absolutely absurd happens, where Sun Life Stadium falls into the Atlantic Ocean and the Dolphins cannot recover, this upcoming season ends with either the Miami Dolphins in the playoffs or looking for a new coach. Obviously, a lot of questions must be answered between now and then, including the entire free agency and draft processes. That did not stop ESPN's Mike Sando from making a way too early prediction of which 12 NFL franchises will be playing in the postseason next year.
If things go how he has predicted, during the playoffs, Miami will be searching for their next head coach.
On the AFC side of the postseason bracket, Sando sees the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots winning the AFC East and, once again, clinching the top seed. Behind them, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and Denver Broncos fill seeds two through four by winning their respective divisions.
The two Wildcard spots go to the Baltimore Ravens and the San Diego Chargers, leaving Miami out in the cold. In his explanation of the Ravens taking the fifth seed, Sando discusses the possibility that Miami slides into the position:
The offense is going to change without Kubiak and it's tough to see the change as an improvement. Miami was a consideration thanks to a road schedule featuring Washington, Tennessee, Jacksonville and the Jets. It's just tough to trust a Dolphins team that typically fades late in the season. The Ravens have averaged 10.4 victories per season since 2008 and have never been worse than 8-8 over that stretch. They find ways to compete year after year.
Sando is exactly right with how Miami has performed the last few years, with the Playoffs right in front of them only to lose critical games in the last couple of weeks and fall from a Wildcard leader to third place in the AFC East. If Miami is going to make it to January football for the first time since 2008, and if head coach Joe Philbin is going to remain the team's head coach heading into 2016, correcting that late season fade habit has to be accomplished.
Will the Dolphins pull it off in 2015? Let's hope so.