The Miami Dolphins are coming off a disappointing 6-10 season in 2017. A big step back from their 10-6 finish in 2016, which landed them a trip to the playoffs as a Wild Card. That puts the Dolphins at an even 16-16 over their first two seasons under head coach Adam Gase.
One of the big reasons that Miami declined in 2017, was a torn ACL suffered by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill in training camp. It was a disappointing setback for Tannehill, who looked like he was turning the corner and starting to live up to his potential in 2016.
The Dolphins tried to save their season by signing Jay Cutler out of retirement to fill the void left by Tannehill, but it simply didn’t work out like they had hoped. Cutler went back into retirement and despite rumblings that the team was ready to move in a different direction, they have decided to give it another go with Tannehill under center.
Tannehill will take over an offense that will have a different look than the last time he took the field. The two big playmakers on offense in 2016 were running back Jay Ajayi and wide out Jarvis Landry. Both have since been traded for 4th round picks. Ajayi’s trade came during the middle of last season, while Landry was sent packing in the offseason.
Miami is optimistic that third-year back Kenyan Drake is ready to step into the spotlight as the focal point of the running game. Drake showed a ton of promise after taking over as the starter last year and wound up averaging a solid 4.8 yards/carry. Veteran Frank Gore was brought in as insurance. They also used a 4th round pick on Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage.
While the running game may be just fine without Ajayi, there’s concern with how the Dolphins will replace the production of Landry, whose 112 receptions led all receivers in 2017. Kenny Still and DeVante Parker will both be asked to take on larger roles, as will the two new additions of Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson.
After losing starting tight end, Julius Thomas in free agency, Miami used a couple of draft picks on Penn State’s Mike Gesicki and Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe. Gesicki will play a bigger role in the passing game, while Smythe will be used more as an extra blocker in the run game.
There was one other significant loss on offense and that was Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who signed with the Chargers in free agency. Miami made a trade with the 49ers for center Daniel Kilgore, while also adding guard Josh Sitton in free agency.
As big as the losses were on offense, the biggest departure from last year’s team was defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The even bigger problem is the Dolphins did next to nothing to replace him in the draft or free agency. That leaves Pro Bowl defensive end Cam Wake as the only sure thing up front.
At linebacker Miami has a ton of upside, but some major question marks as well. The only starter back is Kiko Alonso. The two new starters will be Raekwon Mcillian, there 2nd round pick from 2017 who missed all of last year due to injury and this year’s 3rd round pick of Ohio State’s Jerome Baker.
The strength of the defense will be the secondary, which returns all 5 starters and adds in one of the coveted players in this year’s draft in Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The big concern here is whether or not Miami will be able to put enough pressure on the QB for this unit to excel. They ranked just 26th last year with 30 sacks and it’s hard to see how they improve on that number with the talent on hand.
Have the Dolphins done enough to get back to being a contender in the AFC or will the team implode in 2018 and be forced to start over from scratch?
2018 Dolphins Schedule & Projected Odds
Below you will find the early odds released by Vegas for Weeks 1-16, as well as my projected number for Week 17. Using the lines we are able to give a game-by-game win probability, which we used to come up an expected win total.
|8||at Texans TNF||+7||0.25|
Projected Wins: 6.31
Over/Under Wins Prediction: OVER 6.5
This was one of the tougher projections for me to make, as we just don’t know how healthy Tannehill’s left knee is or if he will be able to stay on the field. If Brock Osweiler ends up having to make multiple starts, it’s hard seeing this Dolphins team being a serious threat in the AFC.
On the flip side of this, Miami could be a legit sleeper if Tannehill is healthy. A big reason for that is the schedule, especially early on in the season. The Dolphins could easily be sitting at 3-0 before they travel to New England in Week 4, as they open at home against the Titans, play the Jets on the road and host the Raiders to get the 2018 season underway. Miami also has winnable road games at Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Buffalo, as well as home games against the Bears, Lions, Jets and Bills.
Even if this team isn’t very good, they could easily get to 7 wins, which is why I would lean towards taking the OVER 6.5 on their win total if I had to make a play.
Odds to Win the Super Bowl: +15000
While I’m willing to gamble on the Dolphins improving on last year’s win total by at least 1-game, you won’t find me holding a Super Bowl futures ticket on this team.
I just don’t think there’s enough talent on the roster for this team to compete with the likes of the top tier of the AFC. Not to mention it would likely take three playoff road wins for them to just make the Super Bowl with New England a near lock to win the AFC East.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Dolphins went like 9-7 and didn’t have a single win over a team that ends the year with a winning record. That’s not the kind of team you want to be betting to win it all. Keep in mind that only the Jets (+20000) have worse odds to win the Super Bowl right now.
Odds to Win the AFC: +3500
I feel pretty much the same way about Miami’s odds to win the AFC as I do placing a wager on them to win the Super Bowl. I just don’t see a scenario where this team puts together that kind of run. They simply didn’t do enough in the offseason and the talent left over isn’t anything to get excited about.
Odds to Win the AFC East: +1200
This one shouldn’t need a whole lot of explanation. The AFC East belongs to the Patriots, who have won the division each of the last 9 years and 15 of the last 17 overall. As long as Brady and Belichick are together in New England (or even just Belichick), it doesn’t figure to be a wise investment taking any of the other three teams to win the AFC East.