Posts about Miami Dolphins

2014 NFL season preview: AFC East


We’re ten days, that’s right TEN, away from the NFL regular season getting underway. The preseason has teased us a bit but now that the more important of the four games have been played, the roster cuts begin and teams will look officially ready for the season. I waited as long as I could to preview each division mostly because of injuries. Just look at what’s happened to Sam Bradford (torn ACL), Cam Newton (fractured rib), Wes Welker (concussion) and many other players around the league. And the NFL hasn’t even played a game yet! The show must go on and so will we. I’ll be doing a division each day, switching from conference to conference, while leaving the toughest divisions to decide for the last few days.

New England Patriots: As it has been for the past decade-plus, the division starts and ends with the Patriots. As long as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are there then it’s just assumed that they will win over 10 games and take the division title. The Jets challenged them for a few years (sometimes successfully) but this isn’t one of the years. The Patriots are healthy, getting back Rob Gronkowski and key players on their defense. The acquisition of Darrell Revis vastly improves what was an abysmal secondary last season. So what’s going to determine their season? Well, Brady’s weapons and their health. Last year Gronkowski went down early and the offense was so different. That and how effective they will be at running. Despite what problems may occur, I don’t seem them giving up the division.

Miami Dolphins: If the Patriots were to concede the division to another team, which team steps up to take it from them? I have a feeling that it’s going to be the Dolphins. All the signs are there. Miami did a nice job signing players in the offseason that fit their needs. Better players on both sides of the line and more weapons at play-making positions. But it’s all going to come down to Ryan Tannehill. The young QB, with the hottest wife in the league, has been getting plenty of buzz as one of biggest breakout stars of the season. I’m a bit hesitant to agree because he’s never been able to stay upright and his deep passes aren’t too crisp. Fixing the o-line and improving the receiving core will help both of those things immediately. Miami will be better this season but challenging New England for the division is a bit of a stretch.

New York Jets: The Jets. Even when they’re not good, they’re still getting plenty of attention because of their bizarre way of doing, well, everything. The circus doesn’t stop this season with the signing of Michael Vick and Chris Johnson. Those two names immediately create discussion but what about the rest of the Jets team? Geno Smith is named the starter for week 1 but how will the rest of the offense step it up? I mean, it’s not like offense can be worse than last season, right? Eric Decker should be a nice go-to target but i’m worried about their secondary and their inability to create turnovers. Coaching is always a question with Rex Ryan around. All signs point to a mediocre/.500 team and I think that’s exactly when they’re headed. Maybe even a bit worse.

Buffalo Bills: Of all the teams with playoff-less droughts, the Bills might be the most disappointing of them all. They’re one of about three teams that are predicted to “make the leap” year after year, but they always come up short on their goals. Last year was the first year of the EJ Manuel era and while he showed a bit of promise to start the season, the injury bug didn’t want to let him do. The Bills are gambling by selecting WR Sammy Watkins so high in the draft (ie. ATL with Julio Jones) so we’ll have to see how that plays out. Yes, the pieces are there as they are most years but how will everything pan out? The potential of the entire franchise being sold will loom over everything and it won’t have a positive result. Potential not fulfilled turns into disappointment. Bills bring up the rear of the division.

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Bucs hold off Dolphins to get first win; ranking the worst teams in the NFL


It wasn’t the worst game of the season (remember that Giants-Vikings game a few weeks ago?) but certain plays during the game put it in contention for the title. The Dolphins have been a mess for over a week now, mostly due to off the field issues, but it was evident that this team is nowhere near the one who started off 3-0. Just take this stat for instance: during last night game, Miami had a total of 2 rushing yards. You read that right. The entire Dolphins team was only able to gain 2 yards on the ground. And I thought my Cowboys had a horrible run game. The Buccaneers were able to get off to a fast start, answer Miami’s second half rally and eventually take home their first victory of the season. Are the 2008 Lions celebrating after last night’s game? Anyways, good for Tampa Bay because does anyone really want to see a winless team continuing to do so poorly week after week? If you’re the team facing them that week you like it because it’s almost a guaranteed win but from a neutral fan’s point of view, all we want is a competitive game. But wait, could the Bucs win two games in a row? It’s possible with a bad Falcons team coming into their stadium next week. Other than that, their only chances of another victory is against the Bills or Rams in December. As far as the Dolphins go, it’s just a complete wreck both on the field and in the locker room. Until all of that goes away and they actually get some consistency on offense, I don’t see the Dolphins winning a game anytime soon with their next few opponents all being solid teams.

My initial plan was to rank the five best teams in the league but i’m actually going wait until after this Sunday’s games to do so. Big games with big stakes this weekend so it’s only fitting to hold off for another week. So then I figured, why not look at the other end of the spectrum and try to sort out the worst teams in the league. So what i’m basically ranking is: right now, which team would another team most want to face. Nothing to do with match ups or more complex reasons, just overall. Even though they’ve gained a bit of momentum, the Jaguars and Buccaneers are the obvious choices for the two teams one would want on their schedule this coming week. There just aren’t more than a couple of players of either of those teams that make me say “oh damn, we have to face him this week” and that’s the biggest reason. Then I would have to say the Vikings because aside from Peterson offense and Allen on defense, there aren’t players that worry me. Their home field advantage is solid but outside of that, there’s no fear. Up next is the Falcons because their offensive production has been abysmal and turnover have been such a problem. Despite their record, the Dolphins have to be included to finish it off. Maybe it’s because their performance from last night is fresh in my mind or maybe it’s those 2 rushing yards. I just can’t get over how abysmal that stat is.

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Dolphins take down Bengals in OT; keys to Sunday’s games


Last night’s game between the Dolphins and Bengals was odd. Most games on Thursday night tend to be wacky but when the game ends on a safety in overtime, you know it’s not your average game. The football was somewhat normal but it wasn’t weekend level at all and the teams seemed to switch positions at halftime. Dolphins controlled the first half and Bengals did their thing in the second. Shout out to Cameron Wake, defensive tackle for the Dolphins, who sacked Andy Dalton to seal the deal after the regulation time wasn’t enough for both of these teams to settle the score. Dalton threw for over 300 yards but never looked settled, also getting picked off a total of 3 times. And because of those three interceptions, the Dolphins were able to contain any momentum that the Bengals were trying to establish. So what’s next for these teams? Well the Bengals are still sitting atop of their division, comfortably by two games but injuries are starting to plague this teams. Now all-pro DT Geno Atkins is out for the season. Two key division games against Baltimore and Cleveland should be indicative of whether or not Cincinnati can put a stronghold on the AFC North. The Dolphins on the other hand, snapping their four-game losing streak, are looking to gain some momentum. A Monday night game against Tampa Bay (who green lit that?) on the 11th could be the start of some momentum for Miami.

I’d like to declare Sunday’s schedule as the worst of the season. Once again, there are six teams on bye (Broncos, Cardinals, Jaguars, Lions, 49ers and Giants) and four of which are .500 or better so maybe that’s the reason there are lots of bad games this week. That’s only on paper though. We’re sure to get some surprises like any other week but let’s take a closer look: every single game on Sunday features least one team that has a losing record. In fact, we have to wait until Monday night (Packers-Bears) to see two teams with winning records on the same field. Of course now that i’m saying this, what’s probably going to happen is that every game will be an instant classic. So there are different things that i’m looking for this Sunday. If the Chargers want to be considered a playoff-caliber team, they have to take care of business in Washington. Same goes for the Panthers because “winning games that you’re supposed to win” is a sign of a team that has their stuff together. I’m avoiding anything having to do between the Titans and Rams. I like dominant victories by the Saints and Seahawks. But I wonder if the Chiefs, a team that’s supposed to dominate beceause of their record, can keep messing with Vegas and anyone who bets on them. I’m also hoping that when Adrian Peterson plays here in Dallas this weekend that he sees that he belongs in a Cowboys uniform. Just a personal pipe dream.

Normally i’d stay away from trying to predict games between two division rivals but I like the Browns at home to upset the Ravens (-2.5). Why in the world would I bet on Cleveland? I’ll take the Ravens when they start to show some consistency and you know what, Jason Campbell didn’t look bad last week.

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Saints race past Dolphins; ranking the undefeated teams


There wasn’t much doubt before the season began for the Saints: most people thought that they were going to be better than last season. Getting back their head coach and suspended players for a full season was the obvious reason but I also see a bit of an edge with this team. Add all that to one of the better home field advantages in the league and it’s certain to be a good season for New Orleans as we saw in last night’s game against the Dolphins. Drew Brees’ monster night (30-39, 413 yds, 4 TDs) led the way for New Orleans as they took down the Dolphins to stay undefeated. One of only five teams left but we’ll get to that later. Last night Brees looked about as sharp as he’s ever looked, picking apart the Dolphins defense with his main targets being Sproles and Graham. Let’s not forget that their opponent, the Dolphins, were also undefeated before last night’s game. At times the Dolphins looked like they could go toe-to-toe with the Saints but like most young teams with an inexperienced quarterback, it was the mistakes that haunted them the most. Ryan Tannehill had some good highlight plays but the more important highlights for him were his 3 interceptions, that always seemed to come when the team was getting a good drive going. Saints were able to take advantage of the turnovers and it was smooth sailing for them. The rest of the schedule looks pretty favorable for the Dolphins so we’ll see how this team moves forward as they try and secure a spot in the playoffs. As far as the Saints go, they’re among the NFL’s elite. But where exactly?

Let’s just assume that the five undefeated teams in the league are the top 5. It’s clear that the Broncos and the Seahawks are a step above the rest of the top 5, looking solid in every single one of their games. I’ll give the Broncos the edge because they have blown out every single opponent they have faced with no signs of slowing down. Do people realize the Broncos closest game was a 16 point victory over the Raiders? Incredible. So that leaves Seattle in second and what worries me about the Seahawks is their offense on the road. Struggling in the first week against the Panthers and then needing a bad game by Matt Schaub to edge out the Texans in Houston. This week’s game in Indianapolis will be a good test for both teams. I was tempted to put the Patriots ahead of the Saints but then I thought about how Tom Brady has no one to throw to AND that New England has just lost Vince Wilfork (their best player on defense) for the rest of the season. Saints have a couple of big wins already (Falcons and Dolphins) while the questions still remain for the Patriots. Luckily for us these two teams face each other in a couple of weeks in New England so that will give us a better perspective of where they rank. The Chiefs are a well coached team with a good defense but here’s my knock on them: they’ve only faced mediocre to bad teams. Wins over the Jaguars and three NFC East teams isn’t exactly a resume to hang your hat on. The Titans on the road this weekend should be a solid test for this team but their real test comes later this season after their bye week when they get a Broncos-Chargers-Broncos set. But as long as they take care of business until then, the Chiefs will have a spot among the best in the league.

It’s nice to rank the teams but let’s remember, the two best teams in week 4 of the season are most likely not going to be the two teams in the Super Bowl. Who knows, maybe this season is different but we’ll have to wait and see.

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Most surprising moments and best performances in 3rd Sunday of the NFL season


Did everyone underestimate the AFC almost completely? Or are the NFC teams just not that good? I’ll be the first to admit that I thought the AFC would be a cakewalk for the Broncos, their only real competition being the Texans and maybe the Patriots depending on their health. As of yesterday, you can include the Colts and Bengals as contenders, with the Dolphins looming and somehow still being a dark horse candidate. For myself, the best performance award doesn’t go to a specific player, it clearly goes to the entire Indianapolis Colts team. Andrew Luck led the way on offense but it was the all around team performance that made their win in San Francisco so impressive. Before the game began I was wondering if Andrew Luck was going to be able to deal with the pressure (mental and physical) but it turns out the tables were turned. Kaepernick and the 49ers offense were the ones struggling to get things going on offense, sputtering along for most the game. While Miami’s win over the Falcons wasn’t as impressive overall (home game) as the Colts, it was still a statement win. Who would’ve thought that heading into week 4 the Dolphins and Saints would both be undefeated? So where does that leave the Falcons and the Niners among the rest of the NFC? Remember, these were the final teams standing last season and were supposed to be favorites to get back there this year. Right now it’s the Saints and Bears as the teams that will seriously battle Seattle for the shot at the big game. And dare I say my Dallas Cowboys? Too early for that but they did look very impressive against the Rams, who on the other hand were abysmal for most of the game.

Speaking of abysmal performances, how about those New York Giants? Before the game began I thought Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera was the clear favorite to be the first coach fired this season but as the afternoon went on, the Panthers just kept scoring and scoring and scoring. The Giants couldn’t stop Cam Newton (4 TDs) and their offense could not get anything going, only managing 150 yards of total offense. So aside from the Colts win, the Giants not even managing to score 1 point really surprised me the most. Did I like it? Yes, anytime all the other NFC East team lose and the Cowboys win is a good football weekend for me. Another impressive win was the Bengals over the Packers, in a wild and crazy game with many ups and down. Packers fans were disappointed and Bengals fans were proud but I think neutral fans around the league enjoyed every minute of that game. It was probably the most exciting game to watch all season. Not so exciting games to watch? The Seahawks freebie at home against the Jaguars, the Patriots victory over the disappearing Bucs and the Saints dismantling of the Cardinals. Wait, how did I forget Cleveland’s crazy win over the Vikings in Minnesota? That certainly came out of nowhere. Too early to say that Brandon Hoyer might actually be decent? Browns fans take a step back for a second, the Bengals are in town next Sunday. Overall a great weekend of football. Probably not as exciting as the first two weeks but it looks like the rust has been shaken off entirely and we’re going to see some quality football as the weather turns cooler. The fall NFL season is upon us.

Tonight it’s the Raiders in Denver to take on Manning and co. The Broncos look like the favorite in the AFC and the Raiders look mediocre at best so I don’t expect any surprises tonight. Broncos roll over Raiders.

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Cowboys race past Dolphins in Hall of Fame game


Even though it was only a pre-season game, the least important one at that, it still feels good to say: ladies and gentlemen, FOOTBALL IS BACK! It really does feel good to type that. Mostly because with the NFL getting it’s pre-season going, that means the slow sports days of summer are coming to an end. We can look forward to the NFL season, baseball playoffs and the start of the NBA season in the longer run. But for now let’s just focus on the NFL as the Cowboys and Dolphins got things going last night, playing in the NFL’s yearly Hall of Fame game. The Cowboys used a strong first half (highlighted by a big interception returned for TD) to race out to a 17-0 lead and never let it go. Bot teams were missing some key players on offense and defense, not wanting to risk injury, so this wasn’t a true indication of what is going to happen this season. Despite that, the defense for Dallas looked solid and was able to fluster the Miami offense and cause mistakes by the Dolphins. Projected Dolphins starting QB Ryan Tannehill played minimal snaps and back up Matt Moore played a somewhat decent game but it’s clear that Miami still has some things to figure out on offense before the regular season begins. The Cowboys on the other hand will involve their offensive stars more as the pre-season goes on (Romo plans to start on Friday) so Dallas fans will get a better feel for the offense.

Many headlines around the NFL this week as there are plenty of games this weekend, starting Thursday night highlighted by the Bengals in Atlanta to take on the Falcons on ESPN. That will be the most watched game but I think the most interesting game that night will be between the Broncos and the 49ers. Two teams that are trying to once again be among the teams that are contending for a title this coming season. The 49ers are dealing with injuries on offense while the Broncos are figuring out how their new additions will adjust and perform. Friday night also features a full slate games, starting at 7:30 ET and the final game between the Cowboys and Raiders starting at 10pm ET. So there are plenty of chances to ignore your wives/girlfriends this weekend and get them used to football season early this year. The Patriots and Eagles game Friday night will be interesting simply because these are two teams that have been making headlines off the field more than on the field this season. How does that translate to their team success on the field? Saturday night has the Giants in Pittsburgh and things wrap up on Sunday with the Bills at the Colts. Remember now, these teams are very raw from training camp so don’t take anything this first week too seriously. The main goal for teams this weekend is to stay injury-free.

Congratulations to all those in the NFL’s Hall of Fame class of 2013. Well deserved.

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Bills take down Dolphins and looking to week 11 in the NFL

It’s becoming apparent that games on Thursday nights aren’t working out very well for the NFL this season. Before the regular season began, I thought it was going to be a great idea. More football is always a good thing, right? Doesn’t seem like it. Teams are tired, still fighting off injuries and not prepared to play two NFL games in five days. I know the Dolphins and the Bills aren’t exactly among the elite teams in the league but there’s clearly something when it takes until halfway through the third quarter for either of these teams to score a touchdown on offense. The Bills don’t have a good defense. In fact, i’d probably rank them among the five worst in the league but last night they looked like they belong with the Bears and the Texans defenses. Or how about I just admit that I was wrong and the Dolphins just aren’t that good. Either way, the Bills’ defense was able to pretty Miami the entire night to force turnovers and eventually take the victory 19-14. The Bills were able to force turnovers (one returned for a TD) and didn’t allow the Miami offense to get into any rhythm which is most likely going to turn into a success. The Dolphins actually has a chance for the lead twice in the 4th quarter but those two opportunities turned into easy interceptions for the Buffalo defense. While these two teams probably won’t be participating in the post seasons, both do have an outside shot of making some noise.

Here are a few things to keep your eyes on this Sunday as the games are going on:

Every single AFC division winner could be decided this weekend: The Patriots can take advantage of the Buffalo victory over Miami, beating a Colts team to be 3 games up in the division with a very favorable schedule. Consequently, if the Patriots do win, the Colts will have lost their 4th game. The Texans could very much take advantage of that while they face a bad Jaguars team in Houston. Out west, the Chargers and Broncos face off for what will essentially be the division title. The Chargers must win this if they plan on making the postseason. Up north the Ravens-Steelers slug fest will be going on but the Steelers are without their QB (their most important player) so the Ravens will definitely looking to take advantage of a depleted Pittsburgh team.

NFC teams trying to gain ground on the leader: The 49ers looked like they were going to run away with the west but all of a sudden they tie AND they’re missing their starting quarterback. Seattle is on their bye week but the 49ers have a very tough game on Sunday night against the Bears. Those same Chicago Bears are feeling the pressure of a red hot Packers team, particularly because Bears QB Jay Cutler is out of Monday’s game due to injury. Another team with a chance to gain some ground? That’s right, my Dallas Cowboys! After a big divisional win last weekend and the Giants on by this week, the Cowboys can take advantage of a bad Browns team in Cowboys Stadium but as most Cowboys fans know, nothing is for certain about this team.

This week my surprisingly close game pick will be the Raiders at home against the Saints (-5) mostly because I feel like people are a little too confident in the Saints now. Remember, their defense is still terrible and the Raiders offense has been looking better these past couple of weeks.

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