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ESPN ranks 2022 playoff teams for 2023 return: Dolphins fall out of top ten

The Miami Dolphins made the playoffs in 2022. ESPN takes a look at their chances for a return in 2023.


The Miami Dolphins battled through an injury-filled 2022 season to claim a spot in the playoffs. They were only one-and-done in the postseason, losing to their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills, in the Wild Card round, but it was a step forward for Miami, a team that appears to be on the rise. Heading into 2023, the team is expected to continue that rise, claiming another postseason berth and potentially battling the Bills for the AFC East division title.

Where do the Dolphins rank among the 2022 playoff teams looking to make it back in 2023? ESPN’s Bill Barnwell took a look at least season’s postseason participants and provide his thoughts on their ability to make a return in 2023. He seems to think the Dolphins could be in a good place to make the postseason, but has questions - specifically about the team’s ability to make it through the season healthy. As such, he ranked Miami 11th out of the 14 teams in their chances to get back the playoffs.

He wrote of Miami:

On paper, the Dolphins might be one of the five most talented teams in football. They were outscored by two points last season, but there’s a huge split there; they outscored opposing teams by 30 points in the games started by Tua Tagovailoa and were outscored by 28 points in the games the quarterback missed. Miami finished eighth in DVOA, which includes the moments Tagovailoa was sidelined.

The Dolphins added Bradley Chubb to the roster in midseason a year ago, then traded for Jalen Ramsey and hired Vic Fangio as their defensive coordinator this offseason. Their defense looked devastating on paper ... until Ramsey tore the meniscus in his left knee for the second time last week. He underwent knee surgery and is expected to be sidelined until December, costing Miami one of the league’s best cornerbacks. It still has an excellent pair of starters in Xavien Howard and Kader Kohou, but Fangio was counting on having Ramsey in a key role.

He went on to point out Tagovailoa had concussion issues last season and has had a major hip injury. He says Tagovailoa was “playing like an MVP candidate” when he was on the field in 2022, but that he will have to stay healthy throughout the entire season for Miami to continue to move forward.

Barnwell is not wrong that everything about the Dolphins probably comes down to health this year. The defensive secondary struggled to stay healthy all last year, and Ramsey’s injury does not get them started in the right way this year. Tagovailoa is healthy and has worked on ways to avoid a repeat of his concussion issues, including an expected change to a new helmet this year, but any missed time from the fourth-year quarterback could derail Miami’s hopes.

The Dolphins are a team talented enough to challenge the AFC’s elite. But, if the injury bug cannot be shaken, the team might struggle to repeat their 2022 playoff appearance. The good thing is - that problem is a true one for nearly every team in the league. Miami is not seen as a team that lucked their way into the playoffs in 2022. They are a talented team who should compete in 2023.