Okay, you caught me in a good mood. Here’s my unexpectedly rosy 2014 season prediction for our beloved SoFlo Sea Mammals.
WEEK 1. VS PATRIOTS
This feels like a game we win, by about half a point. Gronkowski isn’t quite fully operational yet. The Sherman nightmare is finally behind us, and we expect Bill Lazor to keep the Patriots’ defense guessing. I think the story of this game will be Tannehill “out-Bradying” Brady. Tom will have his moments, and the Patsies will score some points. I just think our suddenly imaginative offense will score a few more.
WEEK 2. @ BILLS
We may be wrong here, but the Bills are feeling like a tear-down in waiting. There’s already a disconnect between the front office and the Head Coach. The E.J. Manuel gamble is looking more and more like a misfire. How nice that our jaunt to upstate New York isn’t in the dead of winter? We think we’ll miss Paul Soliai a good bit in this one, and the Spiller/Jackson combo will have some success. However, we think Tannehill will build on his week 1 success, and slice and dice the bison on their turf.
WEEK 3. VS CHIEFS
The Chiefs have perhaps the most dangerous running back in football. Imagine if they’d done anything, anything at all, to improve their receiving corps. They backed the Brinks truck up to Alex Smith’s house, spending a lot of green on a 220 yards, 1.53 TDs per game quarterback. He feels like a glorified game manager to me, but it’s a free country and the Chiefs can do what they want. The KC defense ain’t as good as they looked last year, but they’re solid. However, our D is solid too, and in Miami the Fins notch another win by the skin of their teeth.
WEEK 4. @ OAKLAND
Do I have the cojones to get the Fins all the way to week 6 without a loss? Alas, I do not. I actually think the Raiders snagged a pretty good one in Carr. I think MJD will have a little bit of a “Don’t You Forget About Me” kind of year as the main rusher in Oaktown, and McFadden will make for a dangerous complement. I believe Oakland has strengthened their defense in a big way this offseason. We should beat them. I think we’re a better team than them right now, but this feels like one where we come out a little bit flat on the other end of the continent. Still, 3-1 after the first month is nothing to sneeze at.
WEEK 5. BYE
WEEK 6. VS PACKERS
Reshad Jones returns, and I think our DBs will do a surprisingly good job of keeping Aaron Rodgers in check (by Rodgers’ standards). The problem is that guy Eddie in Green Bay’s backfield. This will be the game when we’ll miss Soliai most. Tannehill will sling it, going toe to toe with Aaron and earning more respect in the process. However, it’s Lacy who will seal the deal for the Pack late in the fourth.
WEEK 7. @ BEARS
Jay Cutler is going to have his best year as a pro. Alshon, The Beast (who’s only averaged 1,400 freakin’ yards a season since we traded him), Forte and Bennett are all legit targets, and this offense will be a challenge to stop. Their defense has holes, and “Dr. T” will be able to exploit those in an unexpected shootout. Unfortunately we see the Bears edging us slightly in the windy city, sending us to 3-3 after a great start.
WEEK 8 @ JAGUARS
We’re going to assume that the Jaguars will have come to their senses by week 8, and will be starting Blake Bortles. I like that kid a bunch, and the wideout corps is green but talented. This will lead to an uncomfortably close game. However, Gus Bradley hasn’t turned around the Jag defense yet, and Miami will ultimately put too many points on the board. An important win to regain our confidence and jump back above .500.
WEEK 9 VS. CHARGERS
Is it too early to worry about our linebackers handling the Ladarius Green/Antonio Gates nightmare? Rivers is a gunslinger, and between those tight ends, Keenan Allen, Woodhead and Matthews, they will undoubtedly score points. But the Dolphins liked the taste of winning again against the Jags, and find themselves on the winning end of an offensive fireworks show at Sun Life. By the way, Fin Nation will officially be in love with Bill Lazor by this point. Wallace will be in the middle of a very good year, and Tannehill will be right smack dab in the middle of making the leap we all hoped for.
WEEK 10 @ LIONS
The Lions finally quit messing around with WR2 and TE1 this offseason, signing Golden Tate and drafting the freakish Eric Ebron. Matthew Stafford, still just 26, is going to have a monster season. He no longer has just one target and a bunch of also-rans. Add in the Reggie Bush/Joique Bell tandem in the backfield, and Detroit is going to give plenty of teams gobs of trouble. Unfortunately that includes our SoFlo Sea Mammals, who fight valiantly but can’t get the Detroit offense off the field at the end of the game.
WEEK 11 VS. BILLS
The 5-4 Dolphins, smarting from a close loss in Detroit, are licking their chops as Buffalo comes to town. We think this will be our most lopsided win of the year. The EJ Manuel experiment will be sputtering, if not over. The Bills will be starting a top 5 2015 draft pick in the face. Tannehill pads his impressive stats in this semi-cakewalk.
WEEK 12 @ BRONCOS
So yeah, their offense is historically great, and they’ve improved their defense. Denver at home will be next to impossible to beat. We don’t see our defense being able to step to this Broncos juggernaut. Expect a big game from Dr. T as he tries to keep up with Peyton. It’ll be fun to watch him slice and dice against a legend, and expect some inspired running by Knowshon Moreno against his former team. However, don’t expect us to notch a victory while a mile high. We leave Denver at 6-5.
WEEK 13 @ JETS
It flew largely under the radar, but by the end of last season Geno Smith was looking like a semi-dangerous quarterback. CJ2K and Ivory are a solid RB tandem. Eric Decker is a good wideout, but not a game breaker. We think this will be a close one, and the Jets will play us hard. However, Tannehill will be better than Geno, and will generate one TD drive more than his counterpart.
WEEK 14 VS. RAVENS
This game sticks out like a sore thumb, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it decides the entire season. The Dolphins and Ravens seem like they’ll be battling for wild card spots, and this game might decide whose vacation starts early. This will be a slugfest, with both teams sensing the urgency. Ultimately it will come down to which quarterback can make a play when needed. On this day it’ll be Ryan Tannehill, who scrambles, buying Wallace just enough time to break free for an epic, game winning heave. We’re 8-5 heading to Foxboro.
WEEK 15 @ PATRIOTS
We hate, HATE even writing this, but the Patriots will effectively secure another division crown in this cold, miserable game. Against a machine like they have humming in New England you accept a split of the season series. Miami hops on the team plane at 8-6, but with two very winnable games standing between them and the postseason. Sound familiar?
WEEK 16 VS. VIKINGS
Zimmer is going to have the Vikes cracking skulls this season and playing hard every down. He will simply accept nothing less. To top it off they may have the best RB and WR in football on their roster. Yes, it’s early to say that about Patterson, but he has all the talent to be in that conversation sooner rather than later. If Minnesota is getting strong QB play from either Cassel or Bridgewater they will be a tough out for anyone. But there’s that defense. They gave up the most points in the NFL last season, and have responded with seven new starters. Will it work? Not overnight. This will still be a flawed unit, one that will allow Miami to put together a game-winning drive late in the 4th. The Sea Mammals are 9-6, and, Football Gods willing, face a win-and-we’re-in battle with the Jets in week 17.
WEEK 17 VS. JETS
The Jests would love nothing more than to crush our playoff dreams in front of our home crowd, but after our epic, horrific collapse of last season it just ain’t happening. The Sea Mammals are focused and steady as they handle their business. Ryan Tannehill is razor sharp, Knowshon army-crawls to his heart’s content, and we seize a wild card.
WILD CARD WEEKEND
The Dolphins fall just short against the Bengals in the freezing cold. Neither team is able to pass very well, and the Jeremy Hill/Gio Bernard tandem begins to rumble on us in the 3rd and 4th quarters. All things being equal we could beat this Cincy team, but that’s what home field is about. Our season comes to a close in the mud and flurries and wind.
Ryan Tannehill has answered the bell and proven to be the closest thing we’ve had to greatness since Marino. Bill Lazor has proven to be a wildly shrewd hire. Joe Philbin, although about as exciting as a fungus exhibit, proves that he can at least get to the postseason. Fin Nation hopes that Dennis Hickey can craft a 2015 offseason that will catapult us to the next level.
GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @TheBottlenose