The Miami Dolphins are coming off their first set of back-to-back winning seasons since 2002-2003. While that’s the most success that Miami has seen in nearly two decades, the ten wins in 2020 and nine in 2021 weren’t enough to make the playoffs.
Enter new head coach and offensive mastermind, Mike McDaniel. He has gone through great lengths to reshape the roster in his image, adding key players such as: Tyreek Hill, Terron Armstead, Raheem Mostert, and many more. But will it be enough to bring Miami back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016?
Dolphins Week 1 (Patriots): 1-0
Miami starts the year at home versus the team they swept last year. While you can never count the Patriots out of any game while Belichick still roams the sideline, I see Miami coming out of this one with a win. The Patriots simply didn’t do enough to really improve either side of the ball and Miami always finds a way at home versus the Pats.
Week 2 (at Ravens): 1-1
This is a huge road game to start the year. I see these teams as practically even. The Ravens defense got tougher with the addition of safety Kyle Hamilton in the draft as well as standout cornerback Kyle Fuller. Baltimore always starts hot, at least offensively, and they look to have their running back group, including JK Dobbins, at full health going into the season. For that reason, I give the edge to the Ravens in this one.
Week 3 (Bills): 2-1
I know how crazy this may sound to have the Dolphins beating the Bills at all. However, if there was a time to catch Buffalo, this is the perfect storm. It’s early in the season which means the South Florida heat and humidity will be sweltering. We’ve also seen Buffalo struggle against speedy receivers like Miami’s. With the improvement expected from Tua, Miami pulls this one out in a hard fought shootout.
Week 4 (at Bengals TNF): 2-2
After such a tough bout against one of the AFC’s biggest heavy weights, Miami has to turn around on a short week and go on the road against the AFC Champions. I see another tough battle, but the Bengals will be coming off a game with the Jets. Cincinnati will be more ready for this game than the Dolphins will, so I give the edge to Burrow and the Bengals.
Week 5 (at Jets): 3-2
I simply don’t see the Jets winning this game. The questions surrounding Tua are merited to a degree, but they are even more uncertain with Zach Wilson. The Dolphins defense looks to give the inexperienced Jets offense all sorts of fits, and the high speed Miami offense looks to burn right past the young Jets secondary.
Week 6 (Vikings): 4-2
Kirk Cousins is like a two-faced Quarterback. You could get all-pro level QB play or you could get bottom 30 QB play. But no matter which Kirk Cousins shows up, I see Miami being able to pull this one out.
Some interesting matchups to look for are Xavien Howard on Justin Jefferson and Byron Jones on Adam Theilen. Two great wide receivers and two great cornerbacks.
Week 7 (Steelers SNF): 5-2
This game is big. The Dolphins matchup well against the Steelers and I can’t see Mitch Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett doing much against this stout Dolphins defense. But following all of this media hate towards Tua Tagovailoa this offseason, it is important for him to perform during this game. He also will have a national stage for him to show the world what he’s got. Big win for Miami.
Week 8 (at Lions): 6-2
There is not much to say about this game except that the Dolphins should win this game. Dan Campbell has so far turned the Lions into a team that will not quit. So, expect a surprisingly tough game. I could see the Dolphins dropping this one because they may be looking past the Lions, but Detroit is still a bottom dweller. So, Miami should be able to handle business.
Week 9 (at Bears): 7-2
This is now five in a row. Not much can be said about the Bears yet. They have an unproven QB in Jusin Fields and a brand-new head coach in Matt Eberflus. Some notable losses include: former all-pro LB/Edge Khalil Mack, WR Allen Robinson, and IDL Akiem Hicks. The Bears had lots of struggles last year, and got much thinner. While it may be a cold November day in Chicago for this game, I don’t see the Bears making this close, let alone winning.
Week 10 (Browns): 7-3
The Browns are a powerhouse… if Deshaun Watson plays. Otherwise, they have Jacoby Brissett, whose play, as Dolphins fans know, speaks for itself. Expect an absolute media circus surrounding this game. I don’t need to remind Dolphins fans about the onslaught of rumors that ran rampant last year about Watson. Unfortunately for Miami, it’s not just about the two QBs. It’s also about Nick Chubb. The Dolphins struggled mightily against the run last year and Miami kept much of their personnel from 2021. Expect the Browns to focus heavy on the run. Counting a loss if Watson plays and a win if Brissett plays.
Week 11 (BYE)
Week 12 (Texans): 8-3
Coming out of the bye week with a convincing win is a great way to start the final 7 game stretch. The Texans across the board got worse and have a treasure trove of draft picks to prove it. The Texans are not in winning mode this year. Expect to see the Dolphins roll away with this one early.
Week 13 (at 49ers): 8-4
The major question with the 49ers is, did Mike McDaniel leave with the magic? Kyle Shanahan is still a very capable play-caller and the 49ers defense is still strong. We don’t know if Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo will be starting, but that hardly matters. What does matter is Deebo Samuel. If he plays anything like last year, Miami is in for a very tough game. They are also traveling to the west coast for this game and that time difference is a real advantage. I am predicting a close loss here.
Week 14 (at Chargers): 9-4
This is the most important game on the schedule. The media circus will be loud for this one. There will be plenty of debates on if Miami made the right choice at QB in 2020. But this game means more than that. The AFC is going to be hyper-competitive this year with several playoff worthy teams sitting at home in January, so every win against major AFC opponents matters extra. The Dolphins will be used to the time difference after staying the week in the west, and the Chargers and Dolphins are almost even, but Miami’s talent at wide receiver is too much for LA to stop. I predict a high scoring, one-score win for Miami.
Week 15 (at Bills): 9-5
All the things I said going for the Dolphins in their early season matchup with Buffalo, are now reversed in the Bills favor. Let’s start with weather. Buffalo in December is a rough place to play. Miami is a good team, but Buffalo is a great team who will likely be fighting for the one seed rolling over anyone in their way. Miami will certainly give them a fight, but there are no moral victories, especially this late in the season. A very tough loss.
Week 16 (Packers): 10-5
No one’s really sure how the Packers will do. They lost both Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and are left with Allen Lazard as WR1. Aaron Rodgers is an all-time great and some would argue he made the career of one or maybe both of the receivers he lost. However, this Dolphins team is tough at home, and will be fighting for a playoff spot. Miami wins a close game.
Week 17 (at Patriots): 11-5
Maybe I’m blinded by a hatred for the Patriots, but as I said before, New England simply didn’t improve enough on either side of the ball to keep up with the highly competitive AFC, which includes the Dolphins. Miami wins a close one and sweeps the Patriots for the second year in a row.
Week 18 (Jets): 12-5
Miami will likely be playing to stay alive, and the Jets will likely be out already. So this game is all about Miami. The Dolphins will have a chance to potentially punch their ticket to the playoffs and find their way to 12 wins for the first time since 1990, in front of their home crowd. Miami wins by a large margin and punches their ticket to the playoffs.
Dolphins twitter legend, Travis the Artist (and Captain), may need to fire up the ol’ USS Dolphins Making the Playoffs because, for the first time since 2016, the Miami Dolphins are primed to make a playoff run.