Year two of the Mike McDaniel era is firmly underway for the Miami Dolphins. McDaniel set high expectations in his head coaching debut last season, guiding the Dolphins to the playoffs for the first time in more than half a decade despite facing major turmoil at the quarterback position with repeated concussions hampering Tua Tagovailoa’s performance. The bar has been set and you can bet this year the expectations are high for the Miami Dolphins and Mike McDaniel.
Right now, the Dolphins’ win total over/under for the 2023 regular season is set around 9.5. They went 9-8 last season, so it looks like football pundits are expecting Miami to roughly stay the course. There are a few reasons for that. They play in the top-heavy AFC East, a division that got tougher. The Bills are perennial Super Bowl contenders and will be as long as they have quarterback Josh Allen in town. Four-time league MVP and future first-ballot hall of famer Aaron Rodgers joined the New York Jets this offseason.
As such, the Dolphins are projected to have the third-best odds of winning the division this season, listed at or around +275 compared to the Bills (+130) and the Jets (+275).
Even with a third-place finish, the Dolphins would have a chance at a playoff spot thanks to the three wild card spots afforded to each conference. Because of this, their Super Bowl odds are a respectable +2500, placing them firmly in the top third of the league.
With Tagovailoa admitting in April that he considered retirement after the horrific string of head injuries he endured in 2022, it makes sense that bookies are hesitant to get too high on Miami if there’s a chance their 25-year-old quarterback calls it quits with another hit to the head.
The upside is certainly there, though, and the Dolphins could go on an excellent run if a few of the games on their schedule break the way they want them to.
Miami will start the regular season on the road in Los Angeles, taking on the Chargers and quarterback Justin Herbert… an intriguing matchup, as Herbert went one pick after Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft.
One nice thing about the Dolphins’ schedule is that they’ll be getting their yearly trip to Buffalo out of the way early, playing the Bills in Week 4. It’s always a climate shock for the team from Miami to travel to western New York late in the season, so with an October 1 game, they should be able to dodge the snow.
They’ll play both reigning conference champions, heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles on Sunday Night Football on October 22, while they’ll head to Germany to take on the Chiefs at Frankfurt Stadium on November 5. They’ll have nine home games this season compared to just seven on the road (in addition to the neutral site game in Frankfurt, where they’ll serve as the home team), an early scheduling quirk that’ll work out in their favor.
Rounding out the regular season are games at the Baltimore Ravens and home against the Bills. Hosting the Bills in the last week of the season is a huge plus for the Dolphins, as there’s a good chance Buffalo will have a playoff spot locked up by that point. If Miami can get an easy game while the Bills rest their starters, it could be just what they need to sneak into the playoffs.
The Ravens game has plenty of intrigue too, as Miami kicked off the McDaniel era last year with a 28-point fourth-quarter scoring burst to beat Baltimore 42-38 on the road. You can be sure the Ravens have that game circled on the schedule, and you can take advantage of Maryland sports betting apps as the Dolphins head north to Maryland to take on the Ravens in week 17.
While the Jets made waves for the Rodgers’ trade, the Dolphins made a massive offseason acquisition themselves. Unfortunately for Miami and their fans, they won’t see the payoff for several months.
The Dolphins made a blockbuster move early in the offseason, swinging a trade for cornerback Jalen Ramsey and giving them an all-pro tandem on the perimeter of their defense along with Xavien Howard. Unfortunately, Ramsey underwent surgery to repair a meniscus injury late in July, one that’s expected to keep him out until December, so it’ll be some time before we see that duo on the field.
The Dolphins missed out on another key opportunity to flesh out their roster, as they had to forfeit their first-round draft pick as punishment for breaking the league’s anti-tampering policy by contacting quarterback Tom Brady and former Saints’ head coach Sean Payton while both of them were under contract for different teams.
The cupboard was pretty bare, to begin with after the Dolphins swung trades for edge rusher Bradley Chubb and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, leaving them with just four picks in this year’s draft.