If they can hold off the Buffalo Bills — who barely seem able to tread water at this point — for the rest of the year, the Miami Dolphins are poised to win their first AFC East division title since 2008. The Dolphins don’t seem to have the same degree of fanfare surrounding them this year that they did last season, when head coach Mike McDaniel’s humorous and candid personality won the hearts of fans across the league, but in the end it isn’t media attention that defines a team. Wins and losses do, and the Miami Dolphins sport an 8-3 record that has them tied for the second-best margin in the AFC, although tiebreakers drop them to the No. 4 spot.
Many sportsbooks name the Miami Dolphins as having some of the best odds of winning the Super Bowl in 2024. Right now, they’re listed at or around +800 to raise their first Lombardi Trophy since the heyday of legendary head coach Don Shula in the 1970s — the fifth-best margin in the league on most platforms.
The Miami Dolphins have a young and talented quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, and perhaps more importantly they have an excellent team around him. Whether it’s superstar wide receivers like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle or McDaniel’s game breaking offensive philosophy, Miami can go blow for blow with any offense in the league.
Their defense is a question mark, however, as the 22.8 points they allow per game ranks an ugly 23rd out of 32 teams. Right now, it still seems like Miami is a year or two away from being a bona fide Super Bowl contender. Because they’ve struggled against teams in that category like the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles — and even the Buffalo Bills, who handed the Miami Dolphins an embarrassing 48-20 loss despite dealing with plenty of dysfunction themselves — I have a hard time signing off on their championship potential as of right now.
With that said, once they’re in the playoffs anything can happen. Right now they’re almost a lock to do so, as CBS Sports computer projections give them a 97.4 percent chance of making the postseason. No one expected the Cincinnati Bengals to come within a couple snaps of winning it all in 2021, and the beauty of the NFL is that every team has a realistic chance of winning on any given Sunday.
I think the Miami Dolphins will make it through the Wild Card Round of the playoffs unscathed. They’d get a home game if the field holds up as it is right now, and teams like the struggling Steelers, quarterback-less Browns or untested Texans — all of whom currently hold wild card spots — simply don’t seem like they could keep up with the Dolphins’ high-powered offense.
As the playoff field thins out in the divisional round, though, I expect Miami’s dance to come to an end. They’ve already struggled with Kansas City, and the prospect of heading to a frigid Arrowhead Stadium in the depths of January isn’t exactly a warm one.
Unfortunately for the Miami Dolphins’ fans, this may be the team’s best chance at a championship. Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option on his rookie contract kicks in next season, meaning that the Dolphins will no longer get top-flight quarterback play for pennies on the dollar. That’ll make it tougher for general manager Chris Grier to flesh out the rest of the roster around him, and the Dolphins will have to make the right choice with difficult personnel decisions in order to build a championship worthy club. They have plenty of talent already, but it still seems like there’s something lacking with this team.
I’ve already touched on most of the players who belong in this category. Tyreek Hill is in the midst of one of the greatest seasons in the history of the NFL, racking up 1,324 yards in 11 games so far. If he can keep that pace up, he’ll break Calvin Johnson’s record for the most receiving yards in a single season in NFL history… albeit with an extra game at his disposal. Hill’s speed is unlike anything we’ve seen in NFL history, whether it’s straight line or weaving through the secondary with the ball in his hands. He’s the perfect compliment to a player like Tagovailoa who loves to sling it deep, almost making one wonder if the young quarterback’s development hinges more on McDaniels scheme or the standouts he’s throwing to.
On the other side of the gridiron, fellow receiver Jaylen Waddle has had an up and down start to the year, but if he can find a way to settle in, it unlocks a dangerous element of Miami’s high octane offense.
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