It is hard to determine exactly how well the Miami Dolphins will fare this season. The NFL is a completely unforgiving league where the clichéd “game of inches” rears its head once or twice per season, deciding games in the process.
The Dolphins found themselves ending the season a disappointing 7-9 despite being a wild card contender until the Indianapolis Colts sent the team into a downward spiral for the remainder of the year while the eventual AFC wild card winners continued to roll. Since that loss in Week 9, the Dolphins only won three more games, with only one of those victories, against the Seattle Seahawks, being impressive.
Both the Colts and Dolphins spent a lot this offseason, and while Indianapolis is believed to now be a contender for the AFC South, the Dolphins are not by any stretch a threat to the New England Patriots in the AFC East.
So, with that in mind, coach Joe Philbin has to begin his second season as head coach preaching discipline and most importantly cutting down on mistakes. Mike Sherman will also have the uphill task of finding roles for Mike Wallace and Lamar Miller while allowing Ryan Tannehill to grow as a passer, despite having shown the same inconsistency and poor decision as last year all preseason.
Realistically the Dolphins will start their season right where they deserve going into their Week 6 bye. I believe that after a 1-2 start to kick the season off, the team’s character will be tested enough to determine how close to the .500 line the team will end up. Realistically by Week 6 I see the Dolphins being 2-3 with their only wins coming against Cleveland and the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
The middle of the season gets very interesting for the Dolphins due to a very favorable schedule against the AFC North and NFC East. The Carolina Panthers were a 7-9 team as well last year, and this game will be an interesting matchup of Ryan Tannehill against Cam Newton, who will have a lot to prove this year.
Another matchup that should prove interesting for the team is the Week 14 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a potential matchup for the Dolphins eighth win if everything works out as the team had imagined it.
After everything, I could see the Dolphins’ best case scenario being a ten win season, assuming they can sweep the rest of their division. Likely, they will be swept by the Patriots this season, but if the Dolphins can upset the Patriots, it should reflect record-wise with a loss to either the Jets or Bills in return.
Worst case scenario, this team doesn’t improve nearly to the length they thought they would, meaning Joe Philbin’s seat will begin to feel the heat. A couple key losses outside of the division, including losses to both the Panthers and Steelers, could easily kill the team’s mid-season run I predict them going on, and doom them to another 7-9 season.
Overall Record: 9-7; No Playoffs
Grab Dolphins tickets for the 2013 season and see if they can best our 9-7 prediction. Tickets to the home opener against Atlanta begin for as low as $35.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486