With the NFL Draft and Free Agency changing the makeup of the league’s 32 teams and the Regular Season Schedule order now released and odds out for the 2015 Season, we’re dissecting all of the NFL team’s schedules, predicting Wins or Losses for each game and then making a Season Team Total or related Futures Book pick involving that team in the end. We continue today in the AFC East with Part 2 of this special series, with the much-improved Miami Dolphins.
Will 2015 be the Season Dolphins Make a Run at AFC East Title?
The Miami Dolphins (Opened 30/1 to win Super Bowl 50, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) landed the biggest Free Agent prize in the offseason, signing former Lions superstar DL Ndamukong Suh to a 6-year, $114 million contract with $60 million of it guaranteed and a tidy little $25.5 million signing bonus. It apparently pays to be Big and Mean these days. Miami (12/1 to win AFC, bet365), team General Manager Dennis Hickey and Head Coach Joe Philbin also did an admirable job in the recent NFL Draft, landing talented Louisville WR DeVante Parker with the #14 Pick in Round 1, NT Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma) in Round 2, G Jamil Douglas (Arizona State) in Round 3, RB Jay Ajayi (Boise State) in Round 5 and acquired three potential DBs in the latter rounds. Pretty, pretty good. So, the Dolphins (4/1 to win AFC East, Ladbrokes)—who finished 8-8 last season—seemed to have strengthened themselves on both sides of the ball it appears this Spring.
With QB Ryan Tannehill (#14 Total QBR in 2014, 59.1) and local (Miami-Florida) RB Lamar Miller (1,009 Rushing Yards), this team has at least a starting point on Offense, while bringing in Suh should anchor the Dolphins Defense (allowed 373 Points in 2014) for years. And with Monday’s news that the NFL has imposed a 4-game suspension on the QB (Tom Brady) of Dolphins’ rival and AFC counterpart, the defending NFL champion New England Patriots (Odds moved from 7/1 to 8/1 to win Super Bowl after Monday’s news, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), maybe The Fish can gain a game or maybe two if they’re lucky, but Miami doesn’t play New England until Week 8, so any theoretical suspensions to Patriots starting QB Tom Brady will probably already have been served and Old News by the time the Dolphins face the champs. NFL odds makers here at the SuperBook opened the Dolphins Season Team Win Total up at 9 (Over -110), so let’s walk through the 2015 schedule in Part 2 of our 32-part special series here at Sportsbook Review and try to determine if this is a good number and how the Dolphins may fare later this calendar year. And remember, the NFL never sleeps.
Week 1—Sunday, September 13 at Washington Redskins (CBS, 1 pm ET/10 am PT)
The Dolphins head up the Atlantic coast to FedExField in Landover, Maryland to face the Washington Redskins (100/1 to win Super Bowl 50, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) in this inter-conference NFL season lid-lifter. Oddsmakers have opened the Dolphins up as 2½-point favorites over the host Redskins for this NFL Kickoff Weekend meeting (Total: 44½, GTBets) in this game, which may be a Ryan Tannehill vs. Robert Griffin matchup at QB. after thrashing the eventual Super Bowl champions Patriots in New England in last season’s opener (33-20), winning in Washington (3-5 at Home in 2014, 4-12 overall) should be easier, although this is actually a tricky spot and start of the season for The Fish as a Loss here would hurt psychologically and in the standings for around the first 6 weeks of the new season.
Dolphins Week 1 Predicted Result: Win (1-0)
Week 2—Sunday, Sept. 20 at Jacksonville Jaguars (CBS, 4:05pm ET/1:05 pm PT)
Miami faces Sunshine State rivals and softies, the Jacksonville Jaguars (300/1 to win Super Bowl, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) in this AFC interdivisional—how does that work, that Miami is in the AFC East, yet Jacksonville is in the AFC South when Miami is farther south, Chico—date in Week 2, and with the Jaguars (3-13, -153 Point Differential in 2014) still having a long way to go to even be a .500 team, expect Miami to get the ‘W’ here at EverBank Stadium against the Jags and QB Blake Bortles (#30 Total QBR, 21.9) in a boring and possibly low-scoring affair in J-ville. Miami is just a better football team, although there is probably a 15-20% chance of an upset by the hosts here. Last year the Dolphins beat Jacksonville, 27-14 in Week 8 here in Jacksonville.
Dolphins Week 2 Predicted Result: Win (2-0)
Week 3—Sunday, September 27 vs. Buffalo Bills (CBS, 4:25 pm ET/1:25 pm PT)
The Dolphins finally play their Home Opener at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens here in Week 3 against AFC East rival and a team very similar to them in the whole scheme of things, the Buffalo Bills (23/1 to win AFC, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), who will only be coming in to this meeting off games (in Week 1 and Week 2) against the Indianapolis Colts and the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots. So, nothing big. Even though the Bills are better defensively than Miami and will likely need this game much more at this early stage of the new NFL season, look for Miami to eke out the Win and start the season off 3-0. Last season, these two each won at each other’s stadiums last season, so Philbin and the Fish will remember that, but finding a way to beat the Bills (9-7 in 2014) at Home in Florida could be harder than finding a way to beat both the Redskins and Jaguars on the Road was. We will see. The fact that Miami lost this game last year, could be 2-0 entering this game this season and that it’s the Dolphins Home Opener in a season with high expectations for this club is enough to give them the slight edge in what is really a toss-up game in reality.
Dolphins Week 3 Predicted Result: Win (3-0)
Week 4—Sunday, October 4 vs. New York Jets (at Wembley Stadium, London, England, United Kingdom) - (CBS, 9:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. CT/6:30 a.m. PT)
After finally heading Home to play a game in Week 3, the Dolphins head across the Atlantic Ocean to the United Kingdom to face the J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets! in yet another extremely winnable game for Miami. Seriously bruh. The Dolphins couldn’t have asked for an easier start to the 2015 than this particular schedule. Have they paid someone off? Are the Schedule Algorithms tainted toward Marine Life? Could we have any more stupid Rhetorical Questions here? Well, the answers are obviously No, No and Yes, and luckily for Miami, it looks like a 4-0 start, almost the polar opposite of the Buffalo Bills as we looked at in Part 1 of this NFL 2015 Season Schedule Breakdown. Here, the NFL Games of the Year early opening odds (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) see the Dolphins installed as 3-point favorites over the Jets, who maybe more so than any other team in the league, have improved their roster this Spring. Still, the QB spot (Ryan Fitzpatrick or Geno Smith?) is too big of a problem for New York AFC (4-12 in 2014) and Miami could still be unbeaten and confident heading in here at Wembley Stadium and should get the win across the proverbial pond in Londontown.
Dolphins Week 4 Predicted Result: Win (4-0)
Week 5— Bye Week
Week 6—Sunday, October 18 at Tennessee Titans (CBS, 1 pm ET/10 am PT)
Whut? Now I know Philbin and/or Hickey have something serious on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. No doubt in my mind, Bubba. Redskins, Jaguars, Bills, Jets in England, Bye and then the Titans? My god, Rog. Those five teams were a combined 22-56 last season, and this strange reality of playing teams in the paltry AFC South, the beige NFC East and its own evolving AFC East means this team is almost being handed at least a Wild Card spot, although the Yin and Yang of all this must surely make for some tough games in November and December. Right? Here, the Dolphins are at LP Field in Music City (Nashville) to face the Titans (2-14 last season) and maybe rookie and #2 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota (Oregon). Expect a win for the Dolphins off the Bye Week and their trip to England against a team which still has a lot of work to do.
Dolphins Week 6 Predicted Result: Win (5-0)
Week 7—Sunday, October 25 vs. Houston Texans (CBS, 4 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT)
“To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” —Sir Isaac Newton, 1687
This is where I think gravity and the Yin and Yang of all things may start catching up with the Dolphins, in this interdivisional AFC clash at Home at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens of all places and in Week 7 against the Texans (30/1 to win Super Bowl, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) of all teams. Life is weird. And there’s no doubt (for Now at least) the Dolphins will be favored in this game and may be on this theoretical winning roll visualized here—thanks in great part to the Schedule—but we need to be realistic about the Miami Dolphins, and they are still a team with a very average roster with much work to do and a team who may be ahead of its skis in perception and eyes of the optimistic public at this point of the process. These things happen and games are never won on paper, websites nor mobile devices. Expectations, experience, rosters, motivation, a great fan base and city with experience and expectations to be Super Bowl champions, Luck, having a great Defense as well as a great starting QB and remaining relatively Injury-free are the big things to achieving success in the Modern Day NFL if you need it all in one sentence. And then look and think about this in the context of the Dolphins. They’re not there yet. Not even close.
Dolphins Week 7 Predicted Result: Loss (5-1)
Week 8—Thursday, October 29 at New England Patriots (CBS, NFL Network, 8:25 p.m. ET/5:35 p.m. PT)
What? The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots? In Foxboro? On a Thursday? On the shortest (3 days) of all possible rests in the NFL? And they’re still Mad with a capital ‘M’ because of this whole Deflategate thing? Wicked, wicked, wicked, wicked, gravity. Hide the Women and Children. There gonna be a Fish Fry tonight, Papa. Things get serious for Miami here at Gillette Stadium as the weather starts to cool down and Tom Brady and New England (4/9 to win AFC East, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) probably hand them their second loss of the year. The SuperBook has made the host Patriots a 6-point favorite in this contest in their renowned NFL Games of the Year odds. That seems like a real steal, knowing that New England will probably be mad and maybe chasing the Bills and/or Dolphins, and that Miami will be coming off a tough game (Texans) the previous Sunday.
Dolphins Week 8 Predicted Result: Loss (5-2)
Week 9—Sunday, November 8: at Buffalo Bills (CBS, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT)
As written about in Part 1 of this series, this is where I think it’s the Buffalo Bills (14/1 to win AFC, bet365) time in which to get some traction and confidence, avenging a theoretical Week 3 loss at Miami and winning their 5th in a row after an 0-3 start and facing Miami in the last of 3 straight Road games. The Bills will remember that they lost this game here at Ralph Wilson to Miami last season, 29-10 (Week 2), and will exact some revenge, although these two teams could be splitting season season series’ in the AFC East for the next decade. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook NFL offers this matchup in its NFL Games of the Year opened this up this game in Orchard Park as a Pick ‘Em, a real testament to how good oddsmakers believe the upstart Dolphins have now become, but I’m not buying it and think these too are almost dead even and that the Bills (4/1 to win AFC East, Ladbrokes) should actually be 2, 2½ or 3-point favorites here in this particular game.
Dolphins Week 9 Predicted Result: Loss (5-3)
Week 10—Sunday, November 15: at Philadelphia Eagles (CBS, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT)
Four Losses in a row? Afraid so, Paco. Miami hates November and December and will more so this season with the schedule top-loaded with Cupcakes and bottom-loaded with Gridiron Shrapnel. Hush my baby, baby, don’t you cry. Lincoln Financial Field in the City of Brotherly Love and Friendly Traffic Meter Maids has never been a fun place for visitors—it even has its own little Jailhouse—and when you’re from the AFC and the strange state of Florida where Alligators run wild like dogs and a staunch, Right Wing Republican like Pat Buchanan can win in a Jewish stronghold like Palm Beach County, then you’re probably not going back home to the Sunshine State with a victory. Maybe some bruises and a stolen hotel towel or two, but no win. The Eagles will need it, want it and expect it more and may be in a groove of their own.
Dolphins Week 10 Predicted Result: Loss (5-4)
Week 11—Sunday, November 22: vs. Dallas Cowboys (FOX, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT)
It’s not a matter of comparing the relative strengths of the AFC against the NFC East, but more of an exercise in determining that—based on 2014 results and the recent past—there are only really three ‘Good’ teams in both divisions right now (Patriots, Cowboys, Eagles), and that both these Dolphins and the previously analyzed Bills still have some proving to do. Wanting to be great doesn’t make you great. Here in the NFL Games of the Year, the SuperBook opened the Dolphins up 2½-point favorites over QB Tony Romo and Dallas, and for me, the Cowboys have both a better Offense and Defense than does Miami this season. In this theoretical, this is where Miami falls to the .500 mark and starts wondering where it all went wrong. The ole Commissioner’s Office at 345 Park Avenue in The City So Nice They Named It Twice (New York, New York) is where it all went wrong, Cetacean Aquatic Mammal breath. Most years you lose on the football field. Every once in a Blue Moon you lose because of The Evil Schedule. That is Miami’s Lot in Life this year. Paper cuts.
Dolphins Week 11 Predicted Result: Loss (5-5)
Week 12—Sunday, November 29: at New York Jets (CBS, 4 pm ET/1 pm PT)
Last year in this game (in Week 13) at MetLife Stadium in scenic East Rutherford, New Jersey, the visiting Dolphins edged the Jets, 16-13 as QB Ryan Tannehill threw for 235 yards, but with all of the impressive talent they have brought in and this far into the season—QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Bryce Petty (Baylor), WR Devin Smith (Ohio State), DL Leonard Williams (USC), All Pro CB Darrelle Revis (Patriots), CB Antonio Cromartie (Cardinals)—I see the Jets (28/1 to win AFC, bet365) improved and starting to gel at this three-quarter point in the NFL’s Regular Season, probably with the aforementioned Fitzpatrick behind center. New York AFC (+700 to win AFC East, Ladbrokes) will also be seeking revenge for a Week 4 loss in London and may also be closer to the Dolphins and Bills in overall play at this point in the season than the rest of this AFC East pack is close to the division’s Big Dog, the Patriots. I think the Jets may get them here, although could also be deemed a toss-up. This will be one of those game on their schedule that the Jets will think that they can win.
Dolphins Week 12 Predicted Result: Loss (5-6)
Week 13—Sunday, December 6: vs. Baltimore Ravens (CBS, 4 pm ET/1 PT)
Seven straight losses are you mad, man? Yes and no, Monsieur Reader. This is just how the cookie is crumbling, so if I were you, I’d hop in my Hovercraft and float on over to the sportsbook and bet the Miami Dolphins Season Team Total Under, pronto, because it’s getting real Ugly in here, Bubba Sparxxx. Fish Fry ugly. Bring the Lemon and Pepper. I have enough Salt. This is complicated. at least to y’all it is. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is this Dolphins schedule is brutal once November hits. Ducks and cover. This game is at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida, and should be low-scoring, but like the Cowboys, Baltimore (25/1 to win Super Bowl, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) possesses much better and more seasoned Offense and Defensive units than Miami. It’s that simple. With QB Joe Flacco and head Coach John Harbaugh playing in the rugged AFC North, edge Ravens (10-6 in 2014, 4-4 on Road).
Dolphins Week 13 Predicted Result: Loss (5-7)
Week 14—Monday, December 14: vs. New York Giants (ESPN, 8:30 pm ET/5:30 pm PT)
Are you ready for some Humility? The Dolphins probably won’t be by this point in the season, the last week of Fall. Luckily for The Fish, this Monday Night Football date sees them at Home at Sun Life stadium in Miami Gardens and playing the New York Giants (6-10 in 2014, 2-5 on Road), a team they could probably beat...but it won’t be easy and there are always a handful of games on the NFL schedule that could somehow mysteriously end up in a Tie—the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals last season—and this may be one of them. Oddsmakers here in Sin City at the SuperBook have made Miami 2½-point favorites in their NFL Games of the Year odds (posted and up for betting at the sportsbook), and that seems like a pretty good line for these two teams which will be in the Rebuilding Mode for the immediate future. Edge to Miami, but only because of the game’s site, the possible need for a Win and that this theoretical 8-game losing streak must come to an end. We’ll see how it all plays out in The Real World in 4 months. Four months? Yes, a little less than four months. Get it together.
Dolphins Week 14 Predicted Result: Win (6-7)
Week 15—Sunday, Dec. 20: at San Diego Chargers (CBS, 4:25 pm ET/1:25 pm PT)
Nothing better than a trip to San Diego right before Christmas unless you’re the Dolphins and get to call sunny Miami home. Here, the Dolphins may see their postseason hopes vanish, and backers of Dolphins Team Total Over (9, -110) bets may be crying in their expensive beers before they expected. Mercurial QB Philip Rivers and the Chargers (30/1 to win Super Bowl, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) will have the advantage of this one being played at Home in Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego with the Dolphins (last Road game) possibly a little downtrodden after such a rugged schedule from Week 7 on. Also, a 2,656-mile flight from Miami to San Diego and losing three hours going from Eastern Time to Pacific Time has to have some kind of affect. Maybe a toss-up, but again, the overall strength of the Dolphins roster and their talent just don’t match up with the Hype, Expectations and Betting Numbers and Odds out there here in mid-May. Even with all the Deflategate silliness. This Dolphins team seems to still be just an average team and this schedule will really test them.
Dolphins Week 15 Predicted Result: Loss (6-8)
Week 16—Sunday, December 27: vs. Indianapolis Colts (CBS, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT)
Andrew Luck and the AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts? For real? What doth we hath done to forsake thee, Sir Rog? No cantaloupe in the Fruit Basket we sent? This may be a battle of Offense (Colts) versus defense (Dolphins) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Orchards, two days after Santa Claus comes to Town?, and with superstar QB Luck and waterbug WRs TY Hilton and Round 1 Draft Pick (#29th overall) Phillip Dorsett (Miami-Florida), Indianapolis (7/2 to win AFC, GTBets) will definitely have the distinct edge here in my mind, especially at this point in the Regular Season, and with this brutal schedule Miami must endure, which could have some psychological effects on this still young and evolving football team.
Dolphins Week 16 Predicted Result: Loss (6-9)
Week 17—Sunday, January 3: vs. New England Patriots (CBS, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT)
The best game on the 2015 NFL schedule for the Miami Dolphins, unfortunately comes in the Regular Season and Home finales against QB Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (-137 to win AFC East, Ladbrokes) at Home at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. The SuperBook NFL Games of the Year opened up this AFC East game with New England as 1½-point favorites, and that may seem like a bargain in mid-May, but with the visiting Patriots motivation (and starters) in a Week 17 game always a real variable, as well as other things like injuries, potential suspensions and the reality your money would have to sit dormant from May until 2016—like that omnipresent almost empty bottle of Hot Mustard tucked in the back of the Condiments Shelf in the Refrigerator—means a bet on the champs for this game so far out may be Wise, but may also be forgotten or lost if of the hard, paper nature. This game could be boring, depending on Week 17 postseason realities, but like as it is in European Football (soccer), the best team in American Football should almost always beat an average (at best) team twice every season, both at Home and on the Road, no matter what the extenuating circumstances. proving you can win on the Road consistently is what Great Teams do and that’s part of the reason why the Patriots (5-3 Road in 2014) are the defending NFL Champions, like them or not.
Dolphins Week 17 Predicted Result: Loss (6-10)
The five biggest games in my mind on the Miami Dolphins 2015 Regular Season schedule all come in a real Spurt of Scheduling Hell, from Weeks 7 through 11 (vs. Texans, at Patriots, at Bills, at Eagles, vs. Cowboys). Mercy. Also worth noting and significant from a handicapping (Season Team Win Totals) perspective, Miami will be playing more Road (9) than Home (7) games—counting London (Jets) as a Road game as Miami will have no home-field advantage unless all Arsenal (English Premier League) suddenly decide to suddenly don the Turquoise and Orange and make Wembley Stadium into Dolphinville East. Right. For me, finally having a decent QB which you can build around (Tannehill) and signing the biggest prize Free Agent (Suh) doesn’t mean that your football team is instantly going to get that much better and be a contender. The Dolphins still have an average roster, were 8-8 last season (388 PF-353 PA) and Miami has the least amount of football culture in the AFC East, compared to the Patriots, Bills and Jets, who all have rabid and loyal fan bases. Miami may have the easiest opening schedule (Weeks 1-6) in the entire NFL, but no doubt have the toughest patch—?—from Weeks 7 to 17, so remember that when the Dolphins Chirping is loud in the months of September and October. This Season Team Win Total (9, -110) seems like a great bet Under for your NFL picks, especially at 9, as (mostly) Good Teams win 9 games every season in the NFL, and the Dolphins are Average, and in the 6-, 7- and 8-win range realistically. If this Dolphins schedule looks as tough as it appears to be now, and I projected only 6 wins (6-10), then if Miami does win 6, 7 or even 8, the Under bet will win. And if The Dolphins do get to 9 wins, then the Bet will Push. The theory? Despite knowing Miami may jump out to a 5-0 or 6-0 start, making them get those 4 or 5 needed wins over a Grueling Schedule (Weeks 7-17, one of the roughest patches in years) to go Over seems like a Logical and Wise approach. Look for yourself.
Next up in Part 3 of our 32-team Sportsbook Review NFL Season team Schedule Breakdown series here in the AFC East will be the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (+250 to win AFC, bet365) with only minimal inclusion of all the Deflategate Mess and its implications of the odds. I’m sure you’ve had enough of that elsewhere by now, and when it all comes down to it, it—a potential Suspension of starting QB Tom Brady—may realistically affect the outcome of just 1 of the Patriots 16 games (6.25%). The Bottom Line here is that although this Dolphins team could be much improved on Defense, its Offense could still be pedestrian and coming from behind in games will be challenging. And then there are Weeks 7-17.
Miami Dolphins Projected Final Record: 6-10
Miami Dolphins Season Team Win Total Pick: Under 9 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Miami Dolphins NFL Games of the Year Picks: Patriots -6 over Dolphins, Week 9; Cowboys +2½ over Dolphins, Week 11 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)