Miami's latest master architect of the 9-7 season.
The Dolphins are who they have always been, at least since the Marino era. The Dolphins proved, yet again on Sunday, that they are a good team who just can’t quite reach greatness.
With the exception of the 2005-2007 seasons, the Miami Dolphins have been that NFL team who consistently beat bad and mediocre teams and almost always loses to the really good and great teams.
This formula has lead to a perpetuating cycle of near misses, heartbreak and the slow erosion of a fan base once considered one of the NFL’s best. The Dolphins have made a science out of winning just enough games to sabotage their draft prospects and losing just enough to keep them from being relevant. It seems to spring from a poisonous combination of ownership who want to win and a team that has been fundamentally unable to achieve greatness.
When the schedule gods hand you an easy schedule (see: 2008), the Dolphins will make a run at the playoffs. When those same gods hand you a tough schedule (see: 2009), the Dolphins will come up short every time, which leads us to this season.
The Dolphins have lost every game in which they played a good, healthy team this season. The Dolphins have also beaten every bad or beat up team they have faced. They are just good enough to be average, and the schedule is just soft enough this season to possibly allow for a first round exit in the playoffs.
One wild card in this theory: Miami almost always figures out a way to drop one game against an inferior opponent and occasionally steals a win against a great team.
Week 8: Miami @ Cincinnati
Miami will win this game, not because they are on the road again, but because the Bengals stink.
Miami 24 Cincinnati 20
Week 9: Miami @ Baltimore
Miami will lose this game, and if you bet against the Dolphins, it’s like taking free money. Baltimore and Pittsburgh have the Dolphins’ number.
Baltimore 41 Miami 23
Week 10: Tennessee @ Miami
The toughest game to call because its tough to say if the Titans are any good or not. I tend to believe they are, and will likely extend the Dolphins home misery.
Tennessee 17 Miami 14
Week 11: Chicago @ Miami
Chicago might be one of the league’s five worst teams. Dol-fans finally get to see a win.
Miami 31 Chicago 20
Week 12: Miami @ Oakland
I’m not inclined to read too much into the outburst in Denver this week by the Raiders, they stink too, which should offer the Dolphins a good chance to extend their winning streak to two games.
Miami 24 Oakland 15
Week 13: Cleveland @ Miami
This is where the fans get set up for the fall, a late season three game winning streak which will end, as usual, in calamity.
Miami 28 Cleveland 21
Week 14: Miami @ NY Jets
The Jets are a good team. A cocky, annoying, drunk driving team, but a good team. Mark Sanchez continues to dwarf the development of Chad Henne. Any long time Dol-fan knows this is a classic fall on their face game for Miami.
Jets 35 Miami 31
Week 15: Buffalo @ Miami
This might be that sneaky game where Miami kills its playoff chances by playing down to an inferior opponent, but let’s imagine a win for argument’s sake.
Miami 20 Buffalo 17
Week 16: Detroit @ Miami
If the Dolphins beat Buffalo, then they will be right in the midst of the playoff rush, and hold off a frisky Lions team in December.
Miami 27 Detroit 23
Week 17: Miami @ New England
Following my formula and ignoring the random wild card game which will pop up and likely kill the Dolphins at some point, Miami may head into the final weekend of the season with a 9-6 record, sniffing around for a wild card berth. It is tough to predict how many wins a team will need in the brutal AFC to get a wild card spot, but if 20 straight years of losing has taught me anything, it’s that there is no way in hell Miami wins in Foxboro in December with a playoff spot on the line for both teams. Tom Brady's hair forbids it.
And thus, like so many seasons before it, the Dolphins will finish 9-7, out of the playoffs, with a crappy draft slot and another year of offseason questions that have no apparent answer.