Now that the season has reached the quarter mark, it’s time to look forward to the next four games to see what the Dolphins need to do to keep pace in their quest to make playoffs for the first time since 2008. Regardless of how bad the Saints made the Dolphins look on Monday Night Football after a 38 x 17 dismembering on national television, let’s keep it real. NO ONE, not even the most optimistic Dolphins fan predicted that the team would be sitting with a 3-1 record going on to game five of the 2013 season against the Baltimore Ravens. And by all accounts, the Monday Night game against the Saints was the most difficult one on the schedule, and a loss to a NFC opponent is not as significant as our record against AFC and divisional foes.
Let’s put into a fresh perspective what the Dolphins have done so far in 2013. Most NFL “experts” tend to forecast the difficulty of games based on the how a team performed in the previous season. Assessing the difficulty of the schedule based on last year’s performances is unreasonable as most NFL teams can change dramatically from one year to year. NFL reporters are not very reliable when it comes to evaluating current NFL trends and tendencies; they are always projecting outcomes based on past performances.
Game one of the 2013 NFL season had the Dolphins traveling to Cleveland to face a Browns team that not many people were convinced would be a very good one. And after a hard fought victory, most pundits gave the Dolphins credit, BUT reminded us that Miami had “only” beaten the Cleveland Browns, losers of 11 out of the last 12 home openers. But alias, look at the standings today and we’ll see that the Browns are the sole leaders of the AFC North division. At the present time, the Dolphins have beaten a divisional leader at their home turf. The Browns defense is a top five unit, and this victory should not be underestimated – it’s exactly the kind of game the “old” Dolphins would lose in the not so distant past.
Game two saw the Dolphins again going on the road to play the Andrew Luck led Colts team. Not only did Tannehill outplay Luck, but the Dolphins defense came up with clutch big plays to seal the win. The Colts are a very good team, both offensively and defensively. Just ask the 49ers that got throttled by Colts the following week in a 27-7 loss at Candlestick Park. As of now the Colts’ record stands at 3-1, the only loss being to Miami.
Week three was the Dolphins home opener, and although being outplayed most of the game, they found a way to rally at the end and pull off a sensational win. The Dolphins led for all of 32 seconds in that game – the only seconds that mattered.
The upcoming game against the Baltimore Ravens is a big one for many reasons. First, the Dolphins need to show that they are a mature team and that they can bounce back from a horrendous showing against the Saints. Second, the Ravens could well be in direct competition for a playoff spot, and the head-to-head tie-breaker could be the difference between playing in the post-season and watching the playoffs at home. Beat the Ravens and we’re 4-1 with tie-breakers against Baltimore and Indianapolis, two teams that will be fighting for post season spots at the end of the season. Lose to the Ravens and the Dolphins fall to 3-2, and the confidence gained over the first quarter of the season will disappear as fast as a jack rabbit in front of a prairie fire. Andy Cohen called this a “validation” game – I call this a “must” win game if the Dolphins want to ride the momentum created in the first four games and to continue to be in strong contention for a playoff spot
Here’s my prediction for the next four games:
Ravens @ Dolphins W
Dolphins @ Patriots L
Bengals @ Dolphins W
Dolphins @ Bucs W
· Yes folks, I see the Dolphins at 6-2 at the halfway point. It’s not only possible, but it’s probable if the Dolphins can limit turnovers and remain free of injuries to important players during this stretch. Let’s see how it goes starting tomorrow at 1:00 PM, my prediction is Dolphins 23 x 20 Ravens!