After suffering one of their worst losses in recent history and losing their starting quarterback, many think the Miami Dolphins are in for a long season. In fact, Kyle Brandt from the NFL Network did not even acknowledge the Miami Dolphins in preview of their game with the Las Vegas Raiders mentioning that if the Raiders don’t hurt themselves, this should be an easy win. Unfortunately, Kyle Brandt and other click bait analyst don’t provide any commentary or analysis to support their prediction. Last year, the NFL Network analyst predicted that the Dolphins would lose handedly to the Jacksonville Jaguars by as wide margin as 23-0. They thought those two teams were heading the wrong direction. They obviously were completely wrong as the Dolphins finished with 10-6 record and the Jaguars went 1-15. Based on how the team has performed in the previous two years under Coach Brian Flores, and the improvement the front office made in the off season, the Dolphins should make the playoffs.
If you learned anything about the Dolphins the last two seasons, it’s that they are slow starters. Last year, they started out 1-3 and then went 9-3 to finish the season. In 2019, they started out 0-7 and then finished 5-4. The strong finishes are a testament to the Dolphins coaching staff. They have done an excellent job of getting the most out of their players. The fact that they split the first two games is not concerning given their slow start; in fact, it’s encouraging.
Heading into Las Vegas, for a rematch against the Raiders, the Dolphins are better on defense and improved on offense. The addition of Jevon Holland at S, improves the already stout Miami secondary and gives the coaching staff much more flexibility. Plus, they improved on the defensive line. The Dolphins have to improve the run defense but it’s not worse than last year.
The Dolphins’ offense is stocked with playmakers which is a big improvement over last year. They had bone fide deep threat in Will Fuller and drafted Jaylen Waddle whose speed and quickness helps the overall offense. The running game stayed the same. The O-Line has struggled which is why I was in favor of drafting Sewell over Waddle but the line is young and will improve over the season. The problem is the Dolphins put more stock into making their lineman versatile. This may be leading to a steeper learning curve than expect especially for the rookie and 2nd year players.
I see the Dolphins beating the Raiders and Indy before heading to Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay game will depend on if the Dolphins can put pressure on Tom Brady. If there is any team in the league that knows how to play Tom Brady it’s the Miami Dolphins who knocked of the Patriots from home field advantage in the playoffs and a bye in 2019 which lead to the Patriots losing confidence in Brady. They are expected to beat the Jaguars and the Falcons in the following weeks before heading to New York to face the Bills for a rematch. I think they beat the Texans, Jets (2x), Panthers, Giants and Tennessee but traditionally have a tough time with the Ravens and the Saints. I think the Dolphins beat the Patriots for a season sweep.
I am confident in picking the Dolphins in at least 8 games with over the Colts, Jaguars, Falcons, Texans, Jets (2x), Panthers, and Giants. That would put them at 9 wins.
The Dolphins would need to win 2 of the four games against the Raiders, Titans Saints and Patriots to get to 11 wins.
This leaves the Bills and the Bucs. If they split these games and then I think they can contend for a division title. Their defense played well against the Bills. I think that will continue to improve. The offense was an aberration. By the time they meet the Bills the second time, I think the new offensive scheme would be more established and many of the errors eliminated. For example, the Dolphins were 0-4 on fourth down. That is not going to happen. Flores will call a more conservative game and let his defense shine.
I have a hard time believing that the Dolphins are not 1 win better than last year. Jevon Hollands is a jackpot and the addition of Waddle and Fuller improves the offense. Just those three offseason addition are enough to get an extra win. However, the Dolphins added a first round DE on defense as well and the young players have more experience. I think it safe to predict an 11-6 season and a playoff birth but I think they should even do better at 13-4.
The naysayers will say what about Tua? The Dolphins were expecting Tua to improve on his rookie season. However, the offense and the Dolphins’ success is not predicated on Tua. Like last year, the Dolphins won with and without Tua. If Tua improves than that will be great. The team is not built on QB play. Tua was not going to be counted on as the Chargers count on Herbert or the Packer Aaron Rodgers. Flores and the staff want Tua to be adequate and to allow the defense and the play makers to carry the team.