NFL Observations: How Much Catching Up Do the Dolphins Have To Do? Plus Title Game Predictions

The Miami Dolphins and the other NFL teams will be evaluating draft prospects differently this year
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The Miami Dolphins won't be in action when the AFC Championship Game takes place Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, though they did face both teams involved.

The Dolphins went 0-3 against the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, games that provided a pretty good picture as to how far they are from championship level and what they need to get there.

In looking at the Chiefs and Bills, it's pretty obvious the difference between those teams and the Dolphins are explosive offenses..

It's always obvious to point out that the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen , and those two likely will be among those getting consideration for NFL MVP honors.

It's also should be noted that Mahomes and Allen both have big-time playmakers at their disposal, Mahomes with tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill along with a deep group of speedy wide receivers. Allen has talented wide receivers everywhere with All-Pro Stefon Diggs, speedy John Brown and slot receiver Cole Beasley.

The Dolphins come up short in all areas.

The hope is that Tua Tagovailoa eventually can get to a level similar or close to that of Mahomes and Allen, but at wide receiver it's evident the team needs reinforcements, whether they come via free agency or the NFL draft.

When we're talking offense, though, it's important not to forget about the offensive line because there's where it all starts, and it's fair to put the Dolphins' front five clearly behind that of the Bills or the Chiefs.

The Dolphins started three rookies up front in 2020 and there was promise shown by Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley, but the group will have to continue to improve to be able to make a difference.

The Dolphins finished higher in scoring defense than either the Bills or the Chiefs, though by not enough of a margin to make up for the big difference on offense.

So that clearly needs to be the focus if the Dolphins hope to close the gap.

PREDICTION TIME

Three games left, three games left to predict.

I went 2-2 with my predictions in the divisional round, hitting on both Saturday matchups (Green Bay over L.A. Rams and Buffalo over Baltimore) but missing on both Sunday games.

Yes, I had the Browns defeating the Chiefs and maybe I would have hit if not for the badly missed helmet-to-helmet hit that caused the fumble-touchback near the end of the first half.

But that's in the past now.

For this week, there are the picks:

Packers over Bucs: Yes, Tom Brady returning to the Super Bowl would be a great story, and he's got the supporting cast to get it done. But has there been any sign all season that Aaron Rodgers can be stopped? Even the Rams with their vaunted defense, though Aaron Donald was slowed by a rib injury, could barely slow him down. Tampa Bay did spank Green Bay in the regular season, but that was Murphy's Law type of game for the Packers and it's not going to happen again.

Bills over Chiefs: Yes, I'm riding the Bills all the way. It's been a while since the Chiefs have lost a meaningful game (October), but they seem to just keep squeezing by lately. The Bills, meanwhile, won an ugly at home against Baltimore and while their offense looked out of sorts, don't dismiss the effects of the wind gusts at Bills Stadium on that night. This also is a rematch of the regular season, but the Bills have improved a lot more since that game than the Chiefs. And it says here their magical season will end with a trip to the Super Bowl as Josh Allen once again continues to silence those critics who still have a hard time accepting he's become an elite quarterback.

DRAFT WINDS

After news that the combine would not take place in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we now have the news that the "30 visits" for each team to host prospects from their region also won't take place this year.

This basically means scouts will have to rely on film more than ever, along with Pro Days, though the number of representatives for each team will be limited to three.

How that will impact the 2021 draft remains to be seen, though in the final analysis, prospects should be judged based on their college performance more than anything.