Miami Dolphins Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 6/24/2014
The Dolphins finished 8-8 last season, yet in some respects they had the most disappointing season in the NFL. Let me explain. First off, you had that whole Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying mess that ESPN bloviated about for weeks and became national news. It will lead/has led to new locker room rules all over the league, and neither Incognito nor Martin is still with the team. The former probably won't get another NFL job, while the latter was traded for a late-round pick to San Francisco.
That story broke after Miami's Halloween night 22-20 overtime win over Cincinnati. It seemed to affect the Dolphins a bit as they lost their next game at winless Tampa Bay. However, it also seemed to rally the guys closer together eventually as the Fins won five of their next six. At 8-6, Miami simply needed to win one of its final two games, as things turned out, to make the playoffs. That seemed very likely against two below-.500 teams, the Bills and Jets. However, the offense went into the toilet in double-digit losses at Buffalo and home to New York.
Coach Joe Philbin somehow survived the bullying and that crushing season-ending two-game skid, although GM Jeff Ireland and a couple of other coaches did not. The Dolphins don't have a ton of buzz right now in south Florida, and that's something owner Stephen Ross wants to change. Thus, Philbin is very much on the hot seat this season, and my guess is he's a goner if the team doesn't get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
It was definitely a below-average group last season, ranking 27th in yards and 26th in points. Generally speaking, when the Dolphins got to 20 points last year they won (or lost close). Philbin hired Joe Lazor as the new coordinator to replace the fired Mike Sherman. Lazor spent the 2013 season as the QBs coach in Philly.
Is Ryan Tannehill a franchise quarterback? The jury is still out on the No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 draft. His numbers were all up across the board last season from his rookie year, but that also includes interceptions and fumbles. Those can't be blamed all on him as the offensive line was not good, with Tannehill getting sacked more than any other QB. That's why the team gave big free-agent dollars to Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert and reached for University of Tennessee offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James in the first round of May's draft. James is likely to start Day 1 on the right alongside another new addition, former Rams guard Shelley Smith.
The Dolphins bolstered the backfield with the signing of Broncos free agent Knowshon Moreno (1,586 total yards and 13 TDs last year), but he reportedly is out of shape and behind incumbent Lamar Miller in the pecking order so far. Moreno also is dealing with a knee injury that could require surgery. Miller's rookie average of 4.9 yards per carry dropped to 4.0 last season when he rushed for 709 yards on 177 carries. The receiving corps is blah. Mike Wallace disappointed last season but did have 73 catches for 930 yards. Brian Hartline led the team in catches and yards but really should be a No. 3 guy. There's not much behind those two, so 2014 second-round pick Jarvis Landry should see time right away.
Miami ranked eighth in the NFL last year in points allowed at 20.9 per game but 21st in yards (359.4 per game). The line and secondary were solid, but the linebacking group is pretty weak. There look to be three new starters in the defensive backfield. Cortland Finnegan has replaced Dimitri Patterson as the cornerback opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes. The team added former Lion Louis Delmas to replaced the departed Chris Clemons at safety. Finnegan and Delmas both used to be good, but both were very injury-prone last year. Former Texans defensive tackle Earl Mitchell replaces the departed Paul Soliai. Mitchell is a good player, but the worry there is he's 40 pounds lighter than Soliai, who was very good against the run. Ends Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake combined for 20 sacks last year, but the 2013 No. 3 overall pick, Dion Jordan, didn't show much. He was limited by a shoulder injury he had surgically repaired before last year's draft and also had to adjust to defensive end after playing outside linebacker at Oregon.
2014 Miami Dolphins Schedule Analysis
The Dolphins have the 12th-toughest schedule in the NFL as their opponents went a combined 129-125-2 last season, a winning percentage of .508. Miami's home slate (.531) appears much harder than on the road (.484). The Fins are 3-point home dogs for Week 1 against New England. The Dolphins had lost seven straight in the series before beating the visiting Patriots 24-20 in Week 15 last year. Tannehill hit Marcus Thigpen with the game-winning 14-yard score with 1:15 left and then Miami picked off Tom Brady in the end zone in the final seconds. It might have been Tannehill's best game as a pro as he was 25-of-37 for 312 yards, three TDs and no turnovers.
Wondering why the home schedule is tougher? Throw out the six AFC East games and Miami hosts Kansas City, Green Bay, San Diego, Baltimore and Minnesota. The Chiefs, Packers and Chargers are all playoff teams, while the Ravens nearly were. The road non-division opponents: Oakland (London), Chicago, Jacksonville, Detroit, Denver. Just one playoff team in the Broncos. The Raiders stink, and that's not even a true road game. The Jaguars are the Jaguars and there will probably be more Dolphins fans at that game.
Miami is likely to play three cold-weather games, and those are always a concern for a warm-weather team: Week 12 at Denver, the following week at the Jets and Week 15 in New England. Miami was 2-1 in cold-weather cities last year from December on, winning at the Jets and Steelers but losing in Buffalo.
2014 Miami Dolphins Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Futures Betting Lines
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Dolphins are +6500 to win the Super Bowl, +3000 for the AFC title and +550 to take the AFC East. Miami's wins total is set at 8, with the "under" a -130 favorite. Moreno is +25000 to win NFL MVP and +10000 to lead the league in rushing. Miller is the same price on the rushing prop. Tannehill is +10000 to lead the league in passing yards. Wallace is +5000 to have the most receiving yards. Hartline is +15000.
2014-15 Miami Dolphins Picks and Predictions
I think the tone will be set for the season in the four games before the Week 5 bye. Beat New England and there isn't an unwinnable game among the next three: at Bills, vs. Chiefs, at Raiders. It's the easiest four-game stretch of the season probably. Miami absolutely can't be worse than 2-2 to hope for the playoffs and really should be thinking 4-0. It's doable. Certainly the Fins must be better than 2-4 against the AFC East, which they have been the past two seasons. I can't recommend any of the individual props above, and the Fins won't win the division. The oddsmakers really nailed the total of 8 because this looks like a .500 team again. That said, I'd expect 7-9 more than 9-7 so go "under."
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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