Going into this season, these Dolphins were very much an unknown. They were led by a first-year head coach, were starting a rookie quarterback and had huge question marks all over the roster.
Nevertheless, back in August I attempted to predict the outcome of each game on the Dolphins' 2012 schedule. At the time, David Garrard was expected to start at quarterback, Chad Ochocinco was the No.1 receiver and Vontae Davis was still a member of the team.
I was, of course, wrong about a lot of predictions, but I had Miami at 5-2 through seven games, not too far off from what has really happened. I had them finishing 9-7 and not making the playoffs.
So, after watching this team for nearly half of a season, recalibrating expectations and thinking it over, I offer my updated game-by-game predictions for the nine remaining games.
At this point in the 2011 season, the Dolphins were 0-7 and some fans were clamoring for the team to "Suck for Luck," or lose games to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. There they could select heralded Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
In Week 9, the two promising prospects meet for the first time at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. As was expected coming out of the draft, Luck is more refined, but Tannehill has impressed in his own right.
The advantage Tannehill has in this matchup is a superior roster, including an at-times dominant defense. Luck has not yet proved he can consistently beat a good opponent, and the Miami defensive front will bottle up the Indianapolis rushing attack.
The Dolphins grind out a victory.
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Colts 13
For most of the early season, the Tennessee Titans have been led by the steady veteran Matt Hasselbeck. During that time, however, they have proved to be highly inconsistent on both sides of the ball.
Chances are that, by the time this game rolls around, second-year quarterback Jake Locker will be healthy and starting once again. While his presence won't solve Tennessee's consistency problems, he does make the Titans offense more explosive downfield.
It will be a challenge for Miami to contain both Kenny Britt and the Titans' aerial attack and Chris Johnson on the ground.
But the Dolphins defense will hold strong again, giving up some points but containing the Titans enough to allow Tannehill and the Dolphins offense to pull out the victory.
Prediction: Titans 20, Dolphins 23
For the Dolphins' first and only prime-time game of the year, they travel up to chilly Buffalo for a Thursday night showdown.
The biggest, most overpriced disappointment of the season is the Buffalo Bills defense. They aren't just worse than expected. They are allowing yards and points at a nearly historic pace. They may or may not improve by Week 11, but the Dolphins should still be able to move the ball fairly easily.
That, combined with an always-ineffective Bills offense led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, should spell out a solid victory for Tannehill and the Dolphins.
The challenge in this game will, as usual, be winning the turnover margin. There isn't a lot of doubt that the Dolphins are the superior team, but giving the ball away can be an equalizer.
The Dolphins protect the ball and beat up on a division rival.
Prediction: Dolphins 27, Bills 13
For those keeping track, I have the Dolphins chugging on a six-game winning streak going into this home tilt against the Seattle Seahawks.
Before the season, even with the low expectations coming from most prognosticators, it was said that Miami's weak schedule could be its saving grace. The Dolphins have now had the opportunity to play some inferior teams in recent weeks, all games I believe they will win.
In Week 12, Miami now faces a different challenge, going against an elite defense and an inconsistent but combustible offense.
Seattle's imposing defensive front and pass rush is nearly as good as its highly talented secondary, both of which pose major problems for Tannehill and the Dolphins offense. A smart and aggressive Seahawks defense will force mistakes from the rookie and result in devastating turnovers.
Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense isn't the most dominating unit, but they will make enough plays to outscore the overwhelmed Miami offense.
Prediction: Seahawks 14, Dolphins 6
This is the first matchup of the year between the surprising Dolphins and the perennial-powerhouse Patriots.
New England got off to a rocky start this season, but there's little reason to think that the Dolphins shift the balance of power in this game. The Patriots' greatest weakness, their defense, is not something that the Dolphins offense is equipped to exploit enough to win.
At the same time, the Miami defense hasn't proven it can stop a high-powered passing offense such as that led by Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The Dolphins struggle primarily to contain the two-pronged attack of talented tight ends and Wes Welker underneath, and the Patriots assert their hold on the AFC East.
Prediction: Patriots 38, Dolphins 21
They may have two losses already, but the San Fransisco 49ers are one of the top two or three teams in the NFL. They are stacked at nearly every position and are only held back by the limitations of quarterback Alex Smith.
Defensively, the 49ers will be a riddle that Tannehill and the Dolphins will not be able to solve. The Joe Philbin offense relies on mismatches to get talented players in space, but there isn't a player on that defense that will be overmatched by any player on the Dolphins offense.
The Dolphins defense won't have the same problem with the San Fransisco offense, but the short fields created by the quality defensive play will put the 49ers in position to score plenty of points to win.
Prediction: Dolphins 10, 49ers 24
If you're still keeping track, that's three straight losses for the Dolphins. Luckily, they now host the in-state rival Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars have struggled in recent years, with most of their offense coming from running back Maurice Jones-Drew. After holding out of training camp, Jones-Drew has missed time due to an injury this season and hasn't provided the lift his team has needed.
Blaine Gabbert, after showing glimmers of hope early in the season, has reverted to many of the same issues that made his rookie season such a disappointment.
The Dolphins defense should shut down this offense, while Miami's offense should be able to move the ball on a mediocre Jacksonville defense.
Prediction: Jaguars 13, Dolphins 30
The Bills head to Sun Life Stadium to close out the season series. Buffalo, still led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, will struggle just the same as it did at home.
Miami's defense proves to be too much for the Bills offense once again and forces Fitzpatrick into numerous mistakes that make it easy for Tannehill to put points on the board.
Prediction: Bills 10, Dolphins 31
Very often, the Dolphins and Patriots meet late in the season when neither team has much to play for. That won't be the case in this matchup.
While I expect New England to have the division and a high seed wrapped up, the Dolphins are on the edge of playoff contention and will need this game.
Tom Brady won't make it easy for them. The matchup problems that the Patriots present will still play a major factor in this game, and though the Dolphins put up a valiant effort, the Patriots ultimately prevail.
Prediction: Dolphins 21, Patriots 24.
Final record: 9-7