The Dolphins’ season was over before it ever got started in 2017, as an injury to Ryan Tannehill during OTAs tarnished the team’s chances of returning to the playoffs for a second straight season. Instead, the team crawled to a 6-10 record, behind $10-million quarterback Jay Cutler, which resulted in the 11th-overall pick in this year’s draft. Tannehill is now healthy, and will play behind a significantly improved offensive line. In addition, Miami’s locker room is now littered with gritty veterans, that should help shape the culture that Adam Gase and Co. so desperately yearn for. Some believe Mike Tannenbaum is on the hot seat and rightfully so. Stephen Ross isn’t getting any younger and wants to see results sooner rather than later. Can the Dolphins compete for the AFC East and return to the playoffs?
Week 1 vs Tennessee Titans---- Win (1-0)
More times than not, a Dolphins home game isn’t much of a home game. The stadium is usually littered with out-of-town rejects, most of who would prefer to root for the visiting team, rather than our beloved Dolphins. This is different. Miami will be ready to prove to the world their disappointing 2017 was a fluke. Miami defeats Tennessee on an *insert kicker’s name here* game-winning field goal.
Week 2 @ New York Jets---- Win (2-0)
After defeating the Titans in Week 1, the Dolphins fly north to take on the their arch nemesis, the New York Jets. I’ve been around long enough to know these two teams hate each other, and almost always split the season series. New York drafted Sam Darnold with the third-pick in this year’s draft. Yes, Darnold is the villain from The Incredibles. Fortunately for Miami, they have a superhero of their own in first-round pick, Minkah Fitzpatrick. Minkah gets not one, but two interceptions, as the Dolphins defeat their division foes and head south 2-0.
Week 3 vs Oakland Raiders---- Win (3-0)
Much like the Dolphins, the Raiders were a disappointment in 2017. Jay Cutler put up a fight against the Raiders on Sunday Night Football, which means Ryan Tannehill will once again have his way with the Raider’s lackluster secondary. Could this be a preview of an AFC wildcard match-up? Maybe. Dolphins win 30-24.
Week 4 @ New England Patriots---- Loss (3-1)
The Patriots are at the top of the totem pole in the AFC until further notice, and this isn’t any different. Despite being shocked on Monday Night Football a year ago, the Patriots are determined to get back to the promise land, and will do whatever it takes to get Brady another ring. Both teams are heading into this one undefeated, but Brady and the Pats win convincingly. 34-17
Week 5 @ Cincinnati Bengals---- Win (4-1)
Cincinnati is one of those teams that are extremely hard to get a grasp on. Andy Dalton is the epitome of mediocre, as is head coach Marvin Lewis. I will never forget Cam Wake’s walk-off safety on Halloween night back in 2013. The Dolphins should have their way with the Bengals, and leave Cincinnati an impressive 4-1.
Week 6 vs Chicago Bears---- Loss (4-2)
The Bears were not very good under John Fox and I’m sure the team would have preferred to promote Adam Gase as their head coach, rather than the latter. With new head coach, Matt Nagy and a plethora of weapons at Trubisky’s disposal, the Bears are going to be a very good team in 2018 and beyond. Rookie linebacker Roquan Smith gets a strip-sack late, as the Dolphins fall short, 24-23.
Week 7 vs Detroit Lions---- Win (5-2)
Detroit is coming off a bye but that is no match for Adam Gase and his “surprising” Dolphins. Matt Stafford has himself a game, but a late kickoff return by Kalen Ballage puts Miami ahead. A blocked field goal as time expires, gives Miami their 5th win of the season. 27-24.
Week 8 @ Houston Texans---- Loss (5-3)
Houston was a force to be reckoned with before an injury to franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a monkey wrench in the team’s Super Bowl aspirations. A healthy J.J Watt and new weapons all-around, the Texans are going to do big things in 2018. Deandre Hopkins is too much for the Dolphins secondary, as they steamroll the Dolphins 31-17.
Week 9 vs New York Jets---- Loss (5-4)
Sam Darnold has now had a few weeks to settle in and has become one of the more impressive rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. Division games are always a toss up and New Yawkers love to infest Hard Rock Stadium like cockroaches at a cheap motel. A late Ryan Tannehill interception gives the Jets a chance, which they capitalize on. JESTS win, 24-23.
Week 10 @ Green Bay Packers----Loss (5-5)
When healthy, there’s not a better quarterback in the NFL than Aaron Rodgers. The Dolphins travel to cold Lambeau field to take on the Packers. Miami keeps the game close but Rodgers is too much for Miami’s young secondary. 34-21.
Week 12 @ Indianapolis Colts---- Win (6-5)
After the bye week, Miami looks like an entirely different team. Adam Gase has implemented some new formations, one that includes It is anyone’ s guess as to whether or not Andrew Luck is throwing a football this late into the season, but no matter what
Week 13 vs Buffalo Bills---- Win (7-5)
Many would argue that the Bills are the best team in the AFC East outside of New England. However, there is no quarterback situation in the NFL worse than Buffalo’s and it shows here. The Dolphins beat Buffalo handily at home. With two wins back-to-back after the BYE, Miami’s playoff aspirations is alive and well.
Week 14 vs New England Patriots---- Win (8-5)
Despite no Julian Edelman, the Patriots were victorious in Foxborough back in Week 4. But the Miami Dolphins are a new and improved team after the BYE and look ready to make a run at the AFC East. Ryan Tannehill has his best game of the year, and picks apart the Patriots’ secondary throwing for 300+ yards and 3 touchdowns. As Miami wins their third straight game.
Week 15 @ Minnesota Vikings---- Loss (8-6)
Heading into week 5, the Dolphins have now won three straight games. With wins over the Colts, Bills and Patriots, the team heads to Minnesota to take on the impressive Vikings. Minnesota signed Kirk Cousins in the off-season, and improved an already elite defense. The Dolphins keep things close in the first half, but the defense proves to be too much for Gase’s offense.
Week 16 vs Jacksonville Jaguars---- Win (9-6)
The Jacksonville Jaguars were one of the best teams in 2017. And if it wasn’t for a last minute touchdown by the Patriots, would have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl. Times have changed. Last year, the Jaguars’ defense was the talk of the NFL. This year it’s Matt Burke’s defense. This game is a back and fourth struggle between two dominant defenses. A late field goal from Jason Sanders, gives the Dolphins a big win and keeps their playoff hopes alive. 12-9
Week 17 @ Buffalo Bills---- Win (10-6)
Much like their previous game with the Bills, the Dolphins are clearly the better football team. With playoff hopes on the line, Adam Gase has his team ready to play. Kenyan Drake has a big game on the ground, and DeVante Parker scores two touchdowns to help lift the Dolphins to victory. Better yet, Miami finishes the season 10-6, and earns themselves a shot at the postseason.
Ultimately, I believe the Dolphins will finish with a eerily similar record to the one they achieved in 2016. Fortunately, I don’t think there’s anyway they can be worse than the 6-10 they stumbled helplessly too with Jay Cutler at the helm. It is very possible the Dolphins only win 7 to 9 games this season and overall have a better team than last year. After-all, this is Adam Gase’s team and the players he has surrounded himself reflect that. It is going to be a difficult task, but I think the Dolphins will finish 10-6, netting the team their second playoff appearance in three years.