It’s here, it’s here! Football season has finally arrived and the moment that Dolphins fans have been waiting for since New Year’s Eve is almost upon us. But, through all the hype, anticipation, and speculation, I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed that the Dolphins aren’t exactly getting a whole lot of love from the pundits out there. If you listen to the all the national “talking heads” (and most of the local ones), you can pretty much pencil this team in for another 6-10 finish. I, however, disagree.
I know this sounds crazy, I know I’m in a definite minority here, but I honestly believe this is a nine, possibly a ten-win team. There are a few reasons that I’m buying the Dolphins stock this year. The quarterback position is better than it was a year ago, the offensive line is better than it was a year ago, the tight end position is better than it was a year ago. If the key pieces can stay on the field, if the offense can perform up its potential, if the defensive backs and pass rushers can play up to their potential, and the front seven can at least be average against the run, this is a team that can finish with a winning record. But, the main reason I believe the Miami Dolphins can shock the football world this year is the schedule.
Before I dive into the schedule, I’d like to take a look at the AFC East. When it comes down to it, the Dolphins are the second-best team in this division already. The Patriots are what they are and unless Tom Brady gets injured, you can pretty much count on them winning the division. The Bills really aren’t anything special and their best skill position player is an aged running back who could be facing a suspension. The Jets are rolling into 2018 with a rookie starting at quarterback. Sam Darnold could be the real deal in a couple years, but he’s gonna take his lumps in his rookie campaign. I’m thinking this division could give the Dolphins five wins and the rest of the schedule could possibly give the Dolphins another five wins.
Let’s start with the obvious, most immediate game on our plate, at home against Tennessee on Sunday. While many are predicting a Dolphins loss in this one because of the running game the Titans have and how much of a problem Miami’s defense has had against the run, I’m picking this one as a win. I think that the Dolphins overall have a more talented offense than the Titans do. Tennessee’s defense is kinda average and kinda banged up, and I also think that our run defense WILL bend, will also be able to do a good enough job keeping the Titans out of the end-zone and keeping Marcus Mariota in the pocket to make the difference.
I believe that week two in New York against the Jets and at home against the Raiders in week three will both be wins. I wasn’t sure if Miami could pull it out against Oakland until I realized that Jay Cutler almost beat them last year WITH Khalil Mack. Now that the Raiders “lack the Mack”, I think the Dolphins got this one. As per usual, we aren’t winning in New England, week four against the Patriots is a loss. I have week five in Cincinnati and week six at home against the Bears both as losses, but either of those games could go either way. Don’t be surprised to see the Dolphins win one of those two, but don’t be surprised to see them lose both.
At home against Detroit in week seven should be a win, as should week nine at home against the Jets. Week ten in Green Bay, who are we kidding? That’s a loss for sure. I think Miami wins in Indianapolis in week 12 and gets the win against the Bills at home in week 13. The Dolphins ALWAYS play the Patriots tough at home, we’ve split with them four out of the last five years (all four wins coming at home), and Miami is the only NFL city where Tom Brady has a losing record, that’s a Dolphins win. Going to Minnesota in week 15 will be a loss, as will week 16 at home against Jacksonville, but I think the Dolphins will keep it close in both of those games. As difficult as it’s been for this team in recent years win in Buffalo, especially when it’s cold, I think the Dolphins pull it off this year and get the sweep of the Bills.
Obviously, I’ve skipped a game here; week eight in Houston on Thursday night. While the Texans have had Miami’s number and the Dolphins have only beaten them once, this game is possibly the most important on the schedule. If the rest of the schedule plays out the way it has the potential to, if the most important pieces can stay healthy, and the Dolphins catch a lucky break or two, this game could be the determining factor to this season being considered a success or a failure. I’ll get more into some of the frustrating losses to the Texans I’ve seen over the years once we get to the eve of that game, but Thursday night in Houston could make the difference between 8-8 and 9-7, but could also possibly be the difference between 9-7 and a playoff berth at 10-6.
The bottom line is, the Dolphins have lost allot of star power and will only go as far in 2018 as Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill can take them. However, I don’t feel like we’ve lost as much in talent (outside of Suh) as everyone else seems to. And besides, when the Dolphins made the playoffs in 2008 and in 2016, those two seasons had three things in common; the team was coming off of a bad year, the team had a relatively easy schedule, and NO ONE was expecting the Miami Dolphins to do anything, kind of like this year. Take a good look at this schedule and think about it, it’s not impossible.