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Five Biggest Reasons for Optimism for Dolphins at the Bye

The Miami Dolphins will return to action Nov. 27 against the Houston Texans riding a four-game winning streak

As the Miami Dolphins sit and watch during Week 11 of the NFL season, we take stock of where the team stands.

When they return to action against the Houston Texans on Nov. 27 riding a four-game winning streak, the Dolphins will have seven games remaining, with a three-game road trip against the 49ers, Chargers and Bills coming after the Houston game, followed by home games against the Packers and Jets sandwiched around the road finale against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on New Year's Day.

As we take a break from the action (TV lingo), let's examine the five biggest reasons for optimism for the Dolphins at the bye.

1. TUA, TYREEK AND THE PASSING GAME

The Dolphins passing game has been humming pretty much all season, but it was downright scary the past three games against the Lions, Bears and Browns. Tua Tagovailoa has been remarkably accurate of late and making good and quick decisions, Tyreek Hill continues to run free in secondaries and change what defenses do, and Mike McDaniel's scheme and play designs have been nothing short of brilliant. Now, things won't be as easy down the stretch as they were in the past three games, but there's also every reason to think the passing game will continue to be among the best in the NFL heading down the stretch.

2. RUNNING GAME REVIVAL

One reason to believe the passing game will remain potent is the rejuvenation of the running game since the arrival of Jeff Wilson Jr. in that most delightful trade with the 49ers. Wilson's physical style has brought a new dimension to the running game and he serves as the perfect complement to Raheem Mostert. If the running game keeps rolling the way it did against the Browns — and, again, it won't always be so easy — it's only going to make the passing game more effective, even if the Dolphins might not throw it as often as they did in the first 10 games.

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3. X BEING X ... AND MAYBE JONES COMING BACK

The Dolphins defense has had to overcome a series of injuries, particularly in the secondary, but the most important player in the group has just recently gotten back to full health. That's obviously Xavien Howard, and there's no understating the impact he could make down the stretch when opposing offenses dare to attack him. And we also can imagine the possibilities for the defense if Byron Jones does come back in 2022 and gives the Dolphins the kind of man coverage they enjoyed in 2020 and 2021, which allowed them to be uber-aggressive with their blitzing or simply lining up more defenders around the box.

4. CHUBB CHASING THE QB

Lest anybody forgot, on the day the Dolphins acquired Wilson, they also landed pass rusher Bradley Chubb with the idea of him juicing up the pass rush. We started seeing glimpses of what that might do for the defense against Cleveland last Sunday when the Dolphins can rotate Chubb, Melvin Ingram and Jaelan Phillips to throw at opposing offenses. There's no understating just how big it would be for the Dolphins to suddenly have a potent pass rush — and not just sacks, but QB pressures that can help produce takeaways. It's encouraging that the Dolphins had five sacks the last two games with Chubb after having only 15 in their first eight games.

5. QUALITY WINS IN THE BANK

The Dolphins are almost done with what admittedly was the soft part of their 2022 schedule, and the final seven games include five against teams that currently have a winning record and another is against a struggling Packers team, but one that can't be dismissed because Aaron Rodgers could decide to flash his MVP form when Green Bay comes to Miami. But that closing schedule doesn't look maybe quite as daunting because the Dolphins already have scored quality wins against the Patriots, Ravens and Bills. This should serve as a reminder that this Dolphins team looks good enough to beat any other team in the NFL.

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