When you’re not a great team, and the Miami Dolphins are not, the list of opponents says as much as anything about what kind of season is coming up.
With that in mind, I’m willing to predict a winning record for the Dolphins. Matter of fact, let’s jump all the way up to 10-6 based on a hunch from the franchise’s last winning season in 2008.
That year, with Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano newly arrived, Miami played only four games against playoff teams from the previous season. Two of those were against New England and one each against San Diego and Seattle.
There may be no direct correlation between that fact and the 11-5 division championship
season that the 2008 Dolphins cooked up. Teams still have to win games, and as it turned out Miami earned a 3-1 record against that foursome from the 2007 playoffs.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to be matched primarily against teams that don’t quite have everything figured out, or at least no more than your own franchise does.
In 2009, for instance, the Dolphins dropped from 11 wins to seven while playing against the schedule ranked toughest in the NFL.
So we turn to the 2015 schedule and find Miami plays just five games against teams from the previous playoff pool, which is one more than the 2008 team had to face. Again, it’s New England twice, plus single games with Dallas, Baltimore and Indianapolis.
Also, the Dolphins’ strength-of-schedule has been ranked as 17th overall based on the .492 winning percentage of its opponents in the 2014 season. The most recent Dolphins playoff team, way back in 2008, played against a list of opponents that tied for 21st in strength of schedule.
Not an exact match but it’s in the ballpark.
Bottom line, Miami has an opportunity to make up for lost ground, and opening the season against Washington and Jacksonville, with combined 2014 records of 7-25, opens that window just a little more.
Will Ryan Tannehill’s quarterback rating continue to climb toward the 97.4 rating that Chad Pennington achieved at Miami in 2008? Hey, no fair asking for all the big answers in one day.
Here’s a box on NFL strength-of-schedule rankings that demonstrates how difficult it can be to get a feel on this. It really is up to the players and the coaches and those omnipotent beings in the replay booth.
Team Strength of Schedule Record
2008 Dolphins T21 11-5
2009 Dolphin 1 7-9
2010 Dolphins T16 7-9
2011 Dolphins T10 6-10
2012 Dolphins 18 7-9
2013 Dolphins T7 8-8
2014 Dolphins 12 8-8
2015 Dolphins 17 ??