2009-10 Miami Dolphins Predictions
by Justin Johnson - 8/16/2009
2008 Figures: Overall record: 11-5. ATS: 8-8. O/U: 6-10
2008 Rankings: Scoring offense: 21.56 (No. 21) Scoring Defense: 19.81 (No. 9)
2008 Inside the Numbers: The Dolphins won the AFC East in 2009 in large part to one of the easiest schedules in the league. Miami only played three teams that ended the year with winning records and only beat one playoff team, 8-8 San Diego.
2009 Super Bowl Odds: +4500
Offense: Despite being one of the better 'under' plays for NFL handicappers in 2008 the Dolphins managed to but together a statistically impressive offensive campaign.
Behind the cotton candy arm of Chad Pennington, who won NFL Comeback Player of the Year for the second time in four years, the Dolphins were 10th in the league in passing yards and No. 8 in the league in yard per play. Pennington may be the perfect player to lead this risk conscious offense. Coordinator Dan Henning is relatively creative with his play calling in the ball-control offense but he does not ask players to hit homeruns, he simply demands them to not make mistakes.
A myriad of players contributed in 2008 in both the run and the pass games for the Dolphins, but the highlight may have been the career rejuvenation of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown's recovery from an ACL injury. Williams and Brown combined to rack up almost 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground and both rushed for more than yards per carry.
The evolution of the Wildcat offense actually aided in the pass game as well. The Dolphins had no stars but very few dim lights. A trio of wide receivers all came very close to identical stat lines. Second year wide out Ted Ginn, Jr. amassed 56 catches, Greg Camarillo had 55 before an injury ended his season, and rookie Devone Bess snagged 54 balls as a third receiver. While 6-foot-4 tight end Anthony Fasano was the redzone threat, hauling in seven of the teams 19 touchdown receptions on 34 catches on the year.
With very few changes to the offensive side of the ball the Dolphins can theoretically replicate the performance of 2008. The main thing to look out for will be how the Dolphins use Pat White. The Dolphins used their second round NFL Draft pick to select White out of West Virginia where he successfully ran the zone-read throughout college. His addition could make Miami more explosive and rely less on controlling the clock.
Defense: The defensive side of the ball was and still is a work in progress. While Miami was able to use hole-pluggers and sure-tacklers to the best of their ability in 2008, a repeat performance is not to be expected.
The defensive line is suspect but so long as they remain solid football players they should hold up for another year.
The strength of the defense is the linebackers. Weak side LB Joey Porter led the AFC in sacks last season and backed up a lot of the trash he is notorious for talking. Inside backers Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele are often overlooked for the quality of work they do but are the center of the defense. Newly acquired, and largely intriguing, strong side linebacker Cameron Wakes will make his NFL debut after back-to-back Defensive MVP campaigns in the Canadian Football League.
2009-10 Miami Dolphins Predictions: The Dolphins took advantage of a very weak schedule in 2008, a lucky break when Tom Brady went down for New England, and maximizing their talent to win 11 games and make the playoffs. Like many other NFL predictions, the thought is that the Dolphins take a step back record wise but may be a better team for it. While last season they only played three teams with winning records this season they have one of the toughest schedules in the league as they will travel to Atlanta, San Diego, Jacksonville and Tennessee while welcoming Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh for games out of the division. The best case for Miami is 9-7, but, the more realistic guess is 7-9.
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