Are the Dolphins Ready to Make a Run?
The Miami Dolphins will be a team to watch regardless of what happens in the final 10 weeks of the regular season because of their move to first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa to take over as their starting quarterback.
But they also could become factors in the AFC playoff picture, which is exactly how Sports Illustrated writer Conor Orr sees it.
"I’m on the record as saying the move to Tua Tagovailoa will make this offense better and harder to contain immediately, which is saying a lot given that Ryan Fitzpatrick was flying above replacement level for a majority of this season," Orr wrote. "There has been nothing about Brian Flores’s Dolphins rebuild that has been irresponsibly microwaved, so Tagovailoa’s practice performances had to have been outrageously good for him to nab the baton at this point in the season.
"The Dolphins are 3–3 at the moment but have the fourth-best point differential in the conference (+47) behind only Baltimore, Kansas City and Pittsburgh. All of the things they do well on offense will theoretically get better when operating alongside a wildly accurate and situationally mobile quarterback. The running game is efficient enough but can get better. If they can survive this meaty portion of their schedule off the bye —Rams, at Cardinals, Chargers — they’ll get the Broncos, Jets and Bengals in a row."
The Dolphins come out of their bye with a 3-3 record and in eighth place overall in the AFC standings one game behind the Indianapolis Colts for the seventh and final playoff spot in the conference.
This suggests that any sort of run in the second half should have Miami back in the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
That, coincidentally, is the last time the Dolphins had a winning record over the final 10 games of the season. They were 8-2 in their final 10 of 2016 after starting 2-4.
Since 2000, the Dolphins have had a winning record in their final 10 games a total of seven times in 20 years (6-4 in 2000; 7-3 in 2001; 6-4 in 2003; 7-3 in 2005; 9-1 in 2008; 6-4 in 2011; and 8-2 in 2016). They made the playoffs in 2000, 2001, 2008 and 2016.