We sling a lot of poop at the Miami Dolphins around these parts. And for good reason. They suck. They tend to stuff all our Sundays, loyalties, and hope into a cannon and fire it into an active volcano like Xenu.
But screw that. We're going to forge ahead and -- perhaps against all sense and reason -- say that the Dolphins are actually going to not only get into the playoffs this year but win their division. Why? Because things just might be lining up to do so. Also, because screw it. Mostly, because screw it.
Now, the odds are against any of this happening. Bovada has the Dolphins' chances of winning the division at +900. And history is clearly against them. But here are ten reasons we think they'll take the AFC East:
10. Because the Patriots Are Old and Injured Yes, Tom Brady is Tom Brady. But he's on the downside of his career and past his prime. Is he still dangerous? No question. Can he still win the AFC East all by himself? Absolutely. Does his wife have a horseface? Debatable. But here's the thing: Brady has always struggled against the Dolphins even when he was at his absolute best. And Miami has to bring the pain when the teams meet again in New England on December 14. It's going to be hard as balls, but it's doable.
Factor in them losing key guys like Stevan Ridley and Jarod Mayo to injuries as well as a defense that has allowed a crapton of first downs to opposing offenses and the window is wide open to reach in and take the division from the Pats once and for all.
Also, Bill Belichick lost a fight with a microphone.
9. Because the Defense Is Legitimately Dangerous The Dolphins defense, led by a ferocious pass rush, is pretty much the most dangerous squad in the NFL. Though they've given up a good amount of points, the Dolphins D has been denting enough ass to be ranked number one in total defense. They've caused turnovers and generally wreaked havoc in opposing quarterbacks' faces by sacking them 11 times so far this season. Covering the tight end is still an issue. And this team still fields Phillip Wheeler. But, in a league where a stout defense can get you far, the Dolphins boast the feistiest, nastiest, most cock-punchiest of them all.
8. Because the Offensive Line Has Been Stellar The days of the offensive line having Ryan Tannehill almost murdered are long gone, it would seem. What was once the biggest weakness for this team has suddenly become of its strengths (it took a first-year GM one offseason to fix what Jeff Ireland couldn't in five years).
Last season, Tannehill was sacked 58 times. Fifty-eight! And yet, he still lives.
But this year, the O-line has allowed only 14 sacks, and a good number of those were Tannehill holding onto the ball too long (something he seems to have fixed, maybe). And all this ass-crushing has been done with their best player out with an injury. Now with Mike Pouncey coming back fully healthy, the O-line will only get better. This means Tannehill will have more time to lock-in on one receiver without getting completely obliterated by an opposing linebacker. This game is won in what football analysts who love to make war metaphors with a game played once a week call "the trenches!"
7. Because Ryan Tannehill Is On His Way to a Career Year, Which Is Kind of Bananas When You Think About It Yes, he locks in on receivers. Yes, his accuracy is maddening. Yes, he tends to brain-fart up a storm from time to time. Yes, he has toes for thumbs. But Ryan Tannehill is slowly coming out of the vanilla fog and putting together quite the impressive third year.
We still don't know if he's the long-term answer at QB this team has been looking for since Dan Marino hung 'em up. But, you have to at least like that he's not stagnant.
#Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill on pace for career bests in completion rate (63.3), QB rating (87.8), TD-INT ratio (27:14), rushing yards (400).— Evan Silva (@evansilva) October 21, 2014
That's pretty impressive. Even more so when you consider how he started this season with his own head coach doubting his abilities.
And yes, his deep-ball passes still look like a ziplock bag filled with piss. But what he lacks in a dynamic arm, he makes up with athleticism and an accurate short ball. He's basically Chad Pennington, only with real-human bones for a skeleton.
6. Because the Remaining Schedule Really Isn't That Bad, Maybe This is where shit can get tricky, but look at the remaining schedule.
This week against the barely-a-football-team Jaguars, followed by the Chargers, Lions, and Bills. No cakewalk, sure. But all beatable teams.
Then, the Fins face off against the Broncos (OK, yes, that's a loss), then the Jets, and then the Ravens. The Ravens have always been a major pain in Miami's ass, but this game is at home, and Baltimore is beatable.
Then Miami goes to New England where the AFC East could very well be decided.
Of course, all this is dependent on the Dolphins not Dolphining all over themselves against the more winnable games so that they can set themselves up for that Patriots showdown.
Wishful thinking? Sure. But we're going with it, so you should join us!
5. Because the Running Game Is Quietly Kicking Ass Don't look now, but the Miami Dolphins' running game is kind of kicking all of the ass lately. And that's with their main running back out for the year.
Last season, the Dolphins averaged about 90 yards a game, which is why they sucked so much ass. But this year, they've been plowing through defenses at 136.3 yards a game, which is nearly 50 more yards than they averaged last season. That's good enough for fourth best in the NFL thus far.
Losing Knowshon Moreno for the season was a crappy thing. But Lamar Miller is showing he can handle the rock as long as the offensive scheme works with his skill set. Miller is small, but he's fast. And the improved play of the offensive line is opening up gaping holes for him to gash defenses with.
Of course, we still have Daniel Thomas. So let's all sacrifice a couple of live chickens to make sure Lamar doesn't get hurt this year.
4. Because Bill Lazor Might Be Onto Something, Maybe Bill Lazor's offense has taken some time to get rolling. But we've seen lately that an innovative offense (i.e., one that throws the ball and doesn't get cute) can be an ass-wrecking one. Unlike offensive coordinators of old, Lazor seems to know how to best utilize his players' skill sets. He doesn't treat Lamar Miller like a bruising back. He gets Tannehill on the move. He doesn't force things downfield. Sure, there's the occasional brain-fart play call, and Joe Philbin's derpiness is always a liability. But Lazor's offense has the Fins moving in the right direction.
3. Because the Bills and Jets Are Suspect (i.e., They Suck) Sure, the Dolphins haven't beaten the Bills in years, and the Jets are always pesky. But both of those teams are a pile of refried ass in every way. The Bills can't seem to get their quarterback situation on track and are suffering their own string of major injuries. Meanwhile, the Jets are an even shittier version of the Dolphins.
2. Because... Cameron Wake Look at how this guy plows through people.
All the talk lately has been of Texans defensive end JJ Watt, and that's all fine and good. But the Dolphins have their own game-wrecking, face-obliterating pass rusher in Wake, who is quietly making a serious case for league MVP this season.
1. Because the Seahawks Lost to the Rams and the Jaguars Beat the Browns and the Browns killed the Steelers and the NFL is Insanely Unpredictable, so Why Not It's a crazy league where literally anything can and will happen. So, yeah. Expect the Dolphins to take the AFC East this year. Also, expect them to shit the bed. But keep hope alive. Just not too much hope. OK, we need to read his list again....