The Dolphins turned a 6-10 regular season in 2015 into a 10-6 campaign last year, reaching the playoffs for just the second time in 15 years. What is the encore? According to oddsmakers, it’s a regression to the mean.
Miami’s over/under win total is set at 7.5 games prior to the 2017 NFL season. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is key to the team’s success, or lack thereof this year. The six-year pro set career highs in passer rating and the all-important yards per passing attempt in 2016. He went down in December with an ACL injury, rehabbing throughout the offseason. Whether Tannehill can replicate last season’s form is the big question. He’s never had a QBR rating better than 18th in the NFL, and the Dolphins are 37-40 SU when he attempts at least one pass in a game. Still, Miami could get off to a hot start and ride the momentum. It does not kick off against a playoff team from last season until a Week 6 trip to Atlanta.
Let’s look at some advanced lines and explore where the Dolphins should pick up some wins, as well as losses.Wins You Can Count On
Count on the Dolphins sweeping the Jets. Tannehill is 13-7 SU under center when Miami’s prior season’s points differential is 4 points or greater than its opponents from last year. The gap is nearly 6 points between the two. They meet in New York in Week 2, the Dolphins favored by 2 points and in Miami Week 8, the Jets catching 8.5.
Miami travels to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in Week 2. The Dolphins are getting a point here. They surprised 31-24 in San Diego as 4.5-point pups last year.
Another matchup highly favoring Miami is a Week 4 encounter against the Saints in London. The Dolphins are laying a field goal. They have won their last three games as chalk on neutral soil.
Games That Could Go Either Way
Miami’s schedule is chock-full of games that can go either way. It opens the season as 1.5-point favorites at home versus the Buccaneers, hosts another coin-flip contest against the Titans (+3) in Week 5, and travels to Baltimore at the half-way point, catching 3 points there. The Ravens clash could be where puffed-up confidence due to early-season success from a light schedule can factor in a tough, but tight road contest. In Week 13, the Dolphins lay a point to the offensively deficient Broncos, and see the Bills twice in the final three weeks of the season.
Real Trouble Spots
The Dolphins are 3-15 SU as a road dog of a field goal or greater behind Tannehill. Woof. In Week 6, they are spotted 6.5 points against the reigning NFC champion Falcons in Atlanta, square off on Monday night at Carolina as a 3-point dog in Week 10, and travel to K.C. in Week 16 as 4.5-point pups.
Oh, and then there’s the Patriots. Miami wide receiver Jarvis Landry predicted it would sweep the reigning Super Bowl champions in 2017. Good luck with that. No AFC East team has beaten New England quarterback Tom Brady as a starter twice in the same year in his career. The Dolphins catch 9 points at New England in Week 12, and 4 points at home in Week 14Bottom Line
The bottom line: Do not expect to see the Dolphins in the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The Dolphins are a perennial .500 franchise behind Tannehill. As a starter, Miami’s average margin of victory is -1.7. Pass on that 7.5 number; its too tight. Expect another 7-9 or 8-8 season like virtually every year.