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Fitting In: Are the Miami Dolphins among the NFL’s Best Teams?

With the second half of the season rolling, where do the Dolphins stand with the class of the NFL?

Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

It’s week 11 of the NFL season, and the Miami Dolphins have had a bit of a dragon coaster type of run so far. Their 6-3 record should indicate that they’re among the best teams in the league, but the three losses have left more of a stain than the six wins have done to clean it up.

If you tap into most NFL shows, the Miami Dolphins are considered pretenders. They present the same graphic and stats about the quality of wins the Dolphins have compared to the quality of losses.

The Miami Dolphins are 6-0 against teams under .500 and 0-3 against teams above .500. Now 0-2 since the Buffalo Bills dropped to 5-5. It’s simple and straightforward forward, but what gets lost is the minutiae, the context.

What are the Miami Dolphins right now?

Yes, the Dolphins have not beaten a team above .500 yet, but they’ve only had three cracks at it. The funny thing is that in the preseason, the Dolphins had what was considered one of the worst schedules in the league. Oh, how quickly things change. I could turn around, and interpret that as the Dolphins beating two teams that made the playoffs last year and absolutely blew out the Denver Broncos, who just beat the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills back to back.

The Dolphins still have some top-tier teams at the end of the year to break that trend, but at the end of the day, the Dolphins don’t make their schedule. They play it, and it’s the same for everyone. You play your schedule, and you don’t get extra wins for beating teams above .500. You just stack wins wherever you can get them and make the playoffs. Once there, it’s anyone’s ball game.

The quality of losses the Dolphins have had has been overlooked. The three losses are to high-quality teams. Two were playing in the Super Bowl, and the other is a consistently deep playoff team. These aren’t just teams that fit the “over .500” crowd, they’re the best of the best. Oh, and all three losses were on the road. I read that as a team that’s taking care of business when they’re supposed to and losing to other great teams with undesirable circumstances like road games, bad officiating, and injuries in key positions.

Coming off of the bye week, the Dolphins are finally getting back to full strength just in time for the softer part of the last half of their schedule.

If the Dolphins hit that next gear like I think they will, we’re looking at an 11-6, or 12-5 team. That’ll win you the division and get a home playoff game, and that hasn’t happened since 2008. I’ll leave that there for you.

What about everyone else?

When you look around the league, there’s not a bunch of consistency there either. We just watched the Denver Broncos beat the Chiefs and Bills back to back. There are no off weeks, and there are no gimme games. Every week presents its own challenges and each of the best teams have blemishes on their resume because of it.

The Kansas City Chiefs have two losses, and should’ve lost a third one to the New York Jets but were bailed out by a flag on a late 4th quarter interception thrown by Mahomes.

The Buffalo Bills are 5-5, and allergic to being consistent. They already fired their offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, and they’re two games back of the Dolphins for the division. They’re in danger of not even making the playoffs.

The Cincinnati Bengals looked like they were back, and Joe Burrow was his elite self again, and they got beat by C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans. They’re 5-4 and in some deep water because they have one of the toughest remaining schedules, and are in the best division in the NFL.

The Jacksonville Jaguars got rocked by the San Francisco 49ers, and look like they got knocked down a peg. They were completely blown out of the stadium, and now they now have to be worried about C.J. Stroud in the back seat with a 5-4 record.

The 49ers and Brock Purdy looked fraudulent for the last three weeks, and then one big win changed everyone’s opinion of them. Go figure.

The only team that’s been consistent is the Philadelphia Eagles at 8-1. They’ve benefitted from being healthy and having a light schedule. The balls have been bouncing their way, but that’s not to take away from what they’ve done. Like I said, there are no gimme games, and all wins count the same. 8-1 is 8-1, however you shape it.

Looking into the second half of the season, most people may have the Miami Dolphins at a tier lower than the rest of the top teams, but that’s fine. With no wins against any top teams yet, the Dolphins don’t deserve to be the favorites in those games. It’s understandable, but the Dolphins are right there in striking distance of beating anyone, and in line for a deep playoff run.