There really should not be a question mark in the title because frankly there is no question about it. ProFootballTalk.com has the Miami Dolphins ranked 29th out of 32 teams. Looking at the 29th spot, it’s quite clear that the media predictions of a monumental fail will continue. Last month, Mike Greenberg of ESPN’s Mike and Mike show predicted the Dolphins would win three games. His partner Mike Golic gave the Dolphins a one game better prediction.
So now it’s Mike Florio’s turn. He has the Broncos, Redskins, and Bengals as the only three teams listed below the Dolphins. Just ahead of the Dolphins are teams like the Carolina Panthers and their new starting rookie QB Cam Newton, the Titans, Bills, Browns, 49′ers, and Seahawks. Scroll up to the 19th spot and you will find the Jacksonville Jaguars, Rams, and Raiders sitting at the turn.
So are the Dolphins really that bad or simply underestimated? The Dolphins could have a top five defense in the league and while questions remain on the offense is it really projecting to be worse than Jacksonville? Apparently many think so. The Dolphins are already a top choice for next year first overall pick in April’s draft. Then of course there is the Tom Jackson ESPN laugh when asked about Miami’s chances opening with the Patriots.
In other words, the Dolphins are getting zero respect. In a way that’s good. The team should be playing with a chip on their shoulder. They should want to prove everyone wrong. Can they take that negative energy and use it to fuel their drive for success? The New England game will likely sell out and if the Dolphins win, there is better chance the following week will come close when Houston comes to town. If the Dolphins simply fall flat and fail, there will be many empty seats this year.
This is not a must win game, it’s the first game of the season. The Dolphins do need to make a statement though. They need to say, “We are here to play football”. Do that, and maybe the media will get off their backs. A meltdown like last years home game against the Patriots and you can bet 29th will be filled by one of the three teams below them as the media will not let up.
Here is a more realistic look at what the power ranking landscape should look like.
I don’t do a lot of power rankings. It’s too subjective and inevitably someone will whine and cry over this team being higher than that team or that team being lower than this team. It’s an opinion and an unbiased opinion at that. So take from it what you will. Here is my 2011 pre-week one power rankings. I will adjust them as the season rolls on as I see the need to do so.
1: Green Bay Packers – Yes they won the Super Bowl but more importantly little has changed for the team over the off-season. In reality, this team should be hard to beat all year.
2: New Orleans Saints – The Saints are healthy and are looking to rebound from last seasons playoff exit.
3: San Diego Chargers – They have all of the tools plus Vincent Jackson back for the entire season. Could be very dangerous from the start.
4: Philadelphia Eagles – They call themselves the NFL’s version of the “Dream team”. They still need to play the game. Their ego’s could either help or hinder their play but there is no doubt they have talent. The edge to me is Andy Reid.
5: Atlanta Falcons – Michael Turner is healthy, Matt Ryan is getting better, and Julio Jones will make covering Roddy White a lot harder. Factor in a top 10 defense and they could become a force.
6: Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are the same Steelers from last year. They hit hard and they play hard on both sides of the ball. They are also well coached and play in a division that outside of Baltimore is not very challenging.
I find that the top six teams are easier to place than the next six. The reality is that too many questions on each team could be the difference of falling from the top twelve to the bottom of the teens.
7: New England Patriots – Like a couple of the team above, I give this to the head coach more than the team itself. The defense could be improved but they could also slide. Offensively not much has changed but the reality is the team has become somewhat predictable and pressure on Tom Brady will throw the entire offense off. This could be set back year for the offense.
8: Dallas Cowboys – Talent yes? Consistency? Not quite. The Cowboys have the talent but they also have an inflated ego. They need to come down off their clouds to reality and then start winning football games. For now, I’ll go on the talent.
9: Chicago Bears – Cutler is as up and down as any starting QB is in the NFL. Their defense is strong and they could find themselves back in the playoffs again this year.
10: Baltimore Ravens – This team should probably be ranked higher. They have a QB who is getting better and have a load of talent on both sides of the ball. They just haven’t been able to get it all rolling at the same time. I look for them to be higher as the season rolls forward. For now, I want to see if they waste the talent they have.
11: Houston Texans – They have a very good offense and a revamped defense. Is it enough?
12: Arizona Cardinals – This is, unlike the Ravens, probably a little high for the Cardinals. Kevin Kolb is the big key to the success of the Card offense. They have a good defense and play in a weak division so they should be able to roll against teams like Seattle and San Fran.
13: NY Jets – It pains me to put them in any ranking but they have a top defense and an offense that potentially could score points. They also have an ego that the team seems to find ways of playing up to. I don’t rank them as high as most but they have the potential to be much higher.
14: Detroit Lions – The Lions have a very solid defense…I know, I laughed myself as I wrote it. The offense is on the verge of being one of the best in the NFL. Most of the questions center on their running backs and the health of their QB. So they could slide just as easily.
15: New York Giants – Solid running backs, solid wide receivers, questionable QB, and a questionable offensive line. Hmmmm, not sure they will fail or succeed. Add to that the growing number of season ending injuries on the defensive side of the ball and my bet is that by week 4 they are in the mid-20 range.
16: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Talent yes, 10 win season in 2010 check, almost no turnover on their roster. Can they do it again?
17: Miami Dolphins – Top defense is assumed to be the bread and butter of the team. The offense is the question and the key. In reality, the team should probably be ranked a bit higher, say the 15th spot but too many questions are still left unanswered on the offense to really put a finger on what this team will be vs. what this team could be.
18: KC Chiefs – Did not look good in pre-season and lost their number one blocking TE in a stupid coaching decision. Who plays their starters in the 3rd quarter of pre-season week 4?
19: Minnesota Vikings – A lot of people want to ride the hate train here but I will tell you this, if Donovan McNabb gets it together…look out. They won’t make the playoffs but they could surely help decide who will.
20: Indianapolis Colts – Amazing how far a team will fall without Peyton Manning. This is a lesson for all NFL teams. Never assume that your number one HOF QB will never get hurt. Did the NFL learn anything from Dan Marino’s Achilles?
21 – 25: Rams, Raiders, Seahawks, Bills, and Jaguars. Defense should be the key to whether these teams succeed or fail.
26 – 32: 49′ers, Titans, Broncos, Redskins, Browns, Bengals, and Panthers. - Offensive question marks need to have answers.