Feels like just yesterday I started my 64 NFL road & home team-by-team season previews, but I began way back on May 12 with the New England Patriots' road slate. I finish them up here with a look at the Miami Dolphins' home schedule.
And one thing right off you will notice if you attend or watch a Dolphins (or Miami Hurricanes) game is that their stadium has undergone quite a renovation. The big addition for those in attendance is a canopy that will shade a large majority of fans in those hot and humid South Florida afternoons. The canopy is built to resist a Category 4 hurricane, which is rather important in Miami. The seats are all colored Dolphins teal now as well. It looks pretty good, and the NFL was impressed enough to give Miami a Super Bowl following the 2019 season. I don't think any NFL home stadium has had more names the past two decades, and there's a new one: Hard Rock Stadium -- locals are already saying "Welcome to the Rock." It cost that company a cool $250 million over 18 years. The renovations cost $500 million.
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As for the on-field product? Meh. Former Broncos and Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase seems like a fine hire as head coach, although perhaps not exactly buzz-worthy for Dolphins fans. They still are ticked off that team owner Stephen Ross, a huge Michigan booster, didn't land Jim Harbaugh after the 2014 season before he agreed to return to his alma mater.
Despite adding Ndamukong Suh last offseason in the biggest free-agent move, the Miami defense was average as was Suh. That unit was addressed in free agency this past offseason in adding former Bills end Mario Williams as well as trading with Philadelphia for linebacker Kiko Alonso and overpaid cornerback Byron Maxwell. The Fins gave up their No. 8 overall pick for Philly's No. 13 and that worked out pretty well for Miami when the top-rated offensive tackle on the board and one-time projected No. 1 overall pick, Laremy Tunsil, was there at 13 (thanks to a certain gas mask video). The Fins snapped him up. If Tunsil starts Week 1, it will be at left guard, not tackle.
The offense has a solid group of pass-catchers in receivers Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills along with tight end Jordan Cameron. But Ryan Tannehill is still too inconsistent. And I believe the Dolphins will struggle to run the ball after losing underrated tailback Lamar Miller in free agency to Houston. Jay Ajayi and past-his-prime Arian Foster will split carries.
Miami was 3-5 at home last season, 2-6 ATS (both records include a London game in which Miami was the home team) and 3-5 "over/under." The Dolphins host three 2015 playoff teams this year. I project a 4-4 record. BetOnline gives them a wins total of 7, with both at -115. I'm thinking push. Overall, Miami's strength of schedule ranks as the 11th-toughest in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2015 winning percentage of .516. Odds listed below for the home team. All Miami home games are scheduled (for now) in the Sunday 1 p.m. slot.
Sept. 25 vs. Browns (-7): Miami probably 0-2 after visiting Seattle in Week 1 and then New England, and I only say probably because the Patriots won't have Tom Brady. Cleveland is likely 0-2 as well after hosting Baltimore in Week 2. The Dolphins ended a four-game losing streak in the series with a 23-10 win in Cleveland in Week 1 of 2013. Key trend: Fins 1-9 ATS in past 10 as home favorite vs. anyone.
Oct. 9 vs. Titans (-5.5): Miami on extra rest as it visits Cincinnati on Thursday in Week 4, and this starts a four-game homestand. Tennessee comes off a trip to Houston. The Dolphins' first game after firing Coach Joe Philbin last year was in Week 6 in Nashville, and they crushed the Titans 38-10. Cameron Wake had four sacks and two forced fumbles. Miami forced four turnovers and had six sacks. Tannehill threw for 266 yards, two TDs and two picks, and Miller rushed for 113 times and a score. Key trend: Fins 2-7-1 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC South.
Oct. 16. vs. Steelers (+3.5): Pittsburgh is off a home game vs. the Jets in Week 5 and ahead of a home showdown with New England. Miami ended a five-game skid in the series with a 34-28 win in Pittsburgh in December 2013. Key trend: Fins 2-8 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC North.
Oct. 23 vs. Bills (-1): This is ahead of Miami's bye week. Buffalo is home to San Francisco the previous Sunday. Williams will be fired up to face his former team, mainly Coach Rex Ryan, who ran him out of town. The Dolphins were routed 41-14 at home by Buffalo in Week 3 last year. Tannehill threw for 297 yards and two scores but was picked off three times. It was 27-0 before the Fins scored late in the third. Key trend: Fins 5-5 ATS in past 10 as home favorite in series.
Nov. 6 vs. Jets (pick'em): Follows the Dolphins' bye week. New York is off a trip to Cleveland in Week 8. Philbin's final game as Dolphins coach was Week 4 last year in London, a 27-14 loss to the Jets. Miami had 226 total yards and allowed 425. It looked like the team had quit already. Tannehill was 19-for-44 passing and had two picks. Key trend: Fins have covered just two of past 10 at home in series.
Nov. 27 vs. 49ers (-5): Miami off its first trip to Los Angeles in a couple of decades. San Francisco is home to New England the previous Sunday. I thought Miami should have looked at hiring Chip Kelly as head coach as that would have brought some buzz, but of course Kelly ended up with San Francisco. Dolphins lost last meeting 27-13 at the Niners in 2012. Key trend: Fins 5-4-1 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC West.
Dec. 11 vs. Cardinals (+3): Dolphins are in Baltimore the previous Sunday. Arizona is home to Washington in Week 13. Miami has dropped three in a row in the series, last 24-21 in the desert in 2012. Key trend: Fins 4-6 ATS in past 10 as home dog vs. anyone of 3 points or fewer.
Jan. 1 vs. Patriots (TBA): Again, no Week 17 lines with too much up in the air on the final Sunday. Fins are in Buffalo the previous Sunday. New England is off its home finale vs. the Jets. One could argue that the Dolphins cost the Pats a trip to the Super Bowl last year thanks to a 20-10 home win in Week 17. Had New England won that, it would have been the AFC's top seed and I believe would have gone to Super Bowl 50. Tannehill was great in the upset, throwing for 350 yards, two TDs and no turnovers. The defense held New England to 196 yards. Key trend: Fins have covered past three at home in series.
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