FPC Dolphins writers Kayla Morton, Garrison Pulley, Carl Mahler and Christian Chappell claim four games out of the 2020 Miami Dolphins schedule that they feel are for-sure wins for the team even before training camp gets under way.
With a lot of questions heading into training camp with a plethora of position battles, the four writers analyzed the current starters on both offense and defense to make their choices.
As an early spoiler, the New York Jets and Los Angeles Chargers are the teams most on the chopping block for the writers and make strong cases for.
Kayla: New York, L.A. Can’t Live Up to New Miami Faces
Miami was the most active team in the NFL when it came to free agency. Signing a dozen new faces, the Dolphins are ramping up their rebuild mode and are buying in now for the long term. While the team will endure growing pains from many different positions in 2020, its talented roster has the potential to put double-digits in its win column. Prior to training camp, a glance at Miami’s schedule already poses some promising opponents that the Dolphins should swim away victorious from.
I expect Miami to win both games of the home-and-home with the New York Jets, as well as against both Los Angeles teams in the Chargers and Rams.
Miami has played New York better at home in the teams’ histories. These two division-rivals have had some of the wackiest games as of late, always making it exciting. In an unpredictable game, I think the Dolphins have the edge because they bring a better team to the table. Even though Miami has a harder time at home, I don’t think New York has a promising offense at all, a lot due in part to head coach Adam Gase, and is just run poorly overall. Miami also added a plethora of defensive guys in free agency and the draft that will cause even more havoc for an offense that can’t seem to string complete games together.
I assume new Chargers QB Justin Herbert will be the starter at least by mid-season and will still be learning the ropes of the league. Cross-country 1 p.m. starts also don’t usually bode well for west coast teams. LA’s win last year in Miami was also its first win there since 1982 and it was a gimme with the Dolphins struggling roster. Herbert is not Philip Rivers.
I think the Rams game is an upset statement win for the Dolphins. Now, in FPC Dolphins’ early win prediction article, I put L.A. beating Miami but it was the hardest game for me to predict.
Aside from defensive tackle Aaron Donald, I think the Dolphins have the potential to put the better defense on the field. With the losses of running back Todd Gurley and wide receiver Brandin Cooks, QB Jared Goff is going to have some major adjustments he has to work through. While he’s gifted with two tight ends that can make up for some of the production, he’s not a good enough QB to change his play successfully especially in this short amount of time. If WR Preston Williams is back to 100-percent and the Dolphins are able to use WR Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns out of the slot and short field with WR DeVante Parker on the field, Miami gets it done. Running backs Jordan Howard and Matt Breida only help this argument as well.
Garrison: Jacksonville, Cincinnati – Sure Wins
Miami was probably the most proactive team throughout the offseason, both because of the picks they made and the free agents they signed. Many new faces coming into the locker room on both sides of the ball gives head coach Brian Flores plenty of talent to work with. Miami has a good chance to improve but the question is how much? With QB Cam Newton going to the New England Patriots that will no doubt make it tougher for the Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills are most likely going to win the division. Fans should taper their expectations and look for growth rather than a massive jump, especially if QB Tua Tagovailoa ends up sitting a majority of the season.
I think a good expectation for Miami would be for it to win both division games against the New York Jets, along with their week three matchup against the Jaguars and their matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals who are even earlier in their rebuild.
Carl: Jets, Jaguars, Chargers: Bottom Feeders
Flores was sure making rounds in the offseason as he brought in 16 fresh faces to the Dolphins in what is sure to be another rebuilding year and hope the players buy in for the long term. With all the talent Miami has the potential to win more than expected and shock some folks in the NFL. A glance at the schedule for Miami poses some praise of hope that the Dolphins should sink their opponents in defeat.
I expect Miami to win both division games against the Jets as well as the Thursday night game against the Jaguars and the home game against the Chargers.
Christian: Miami Should Claim Many Division Wins
The Dolphins had a very productive offseason, picking up players in just about every position you can think of, signing at least 11 different free-agent players this offseason, including names like Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson, Howard and Emmanuel Ogbah. That also doesn’t include the trade for Brieda and the 10 undrafted free-agents the Dolphins signed back in April along with all their fresh draft picks.
With so many new additions to the already young Miami roster, there could be a lot of chances for error but also a lot of chances for growth. The team only went 5-11 last year and grabbed all but one of those wins on the way out in the second half of the season. With what they came out of last year and all the new players it has added to the team, I would expect at least a one to two win improvement from last years’ record.
That said, I believe at least three of those wins will come within the division and another one will come in their home game to the Bengals. I believe the Dolphins will get themselves a home-sweep within their divisional this year, besting the Jets, Bills and Patriots all when they come to visit Hard Rock Stadium.
The Jets and Bills have always been shaky and inconsistent teams, especially when it came to divisional games. New England formerly had the AFC East division down packed, winning the division 15 out of the last 16 years, and the last 11 years consecutively, but with the loss of the QB who gave them all of those divisional titles, head coach Bill Belichick’s title could be in question. While the question of the AFC East title is irrelevant for my decision, I do believe the anxiety and stress of a new QB under the helm will cost New England their win at Hard Rock this year, even with it added Newton.
As for the Cincinnati Bengals, I don’t think one rookie QB will fix all the problems that team had last year, and I believe that their road victories will not be coming easily this year.
The FPC Dolphins will reevaluate their choices after training camp has concluded and publish a comparison article.