Nobody Thinks the Miami Dolphins Can Win the AFC East This Year

This Sunday, a brand-new Miami Dolphins season kicks off at 4 p.m. in Seattle. When the game begins, the Dolphins will be tied for the lead in the AFC East. This is news because it does not happen often. Only once (in 2008, when Miami won) has a season ended with anyone but the New England Patriots at the top of the division.

With Tom Brady serving a four-game suspension because of his role in Deflategate, though, many South Florida optimists thought this could be the year the Dolphins steal the division back. 

Well, it doesn't appear many national pundits share that optimism. 

This is the time of year when all the prediction columns from the national media come out, and the Dolphins have fared rather terribly. Like, superbad. All 20 of the personalities polled picked the Patriots to win the AFC East this season, even with Brady on the shelf for 25 percent of the regular season. Asked to elaborate, none of them even mentioned the Dolphins as a possible threat.

Of the ESPN Insiders on the record, only Dolphins beat writer James Walker seems positive about what the team can do under head coach Adam Gase. ESPN prognosticators have routinely appeared on-air this offseason ranking the Dolphins as their favorite to finish dead last in the AFC East. 

Barry Jackson recently spoke to ESPN's Jon Gruden, who openly admitted he wouldn't hype the 2016 Miami Dolphins because he was so wrong about the 2015 Miami Dolphins. Jackson also spoke to CBS analyst Phil Simms, who had this to say about the outlook for this year's team: "Do I look at the Miami Dolphins as a Super Bowl contender? I do not. I have watched their preseason games."

That's all based on the team's preseason games, really? OK, then. 

Long story short, the Dolphins aren't getting any respect this year for a multitude of reasons, many of which relate back to past teams' disappointment, not this team's abilities.

Is that fair? Not really, but any Dolphins fan can understand the sentiment. Why would experts go out on that limb considering how inconsistent these teams have been? There are certainly more reasons to pick the Dolphins finishing last than there are to decide they can win the division. 

The Dolphins have been everything from a Super Bowl favorite, playoff dark horse, and AFC East favorite over the course of the past two decades. Each time, they've disappointed, most times in epic-meltdown fashion. It's totally understandable why no one is giving them a chance to win anything in 2016. It's also probably better off that way, because they've crashed and burned when given high praise in the past. 
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi