This is the 3rd part of a 4 part series designed to give our readers some insight into what “could” transpire in this upcoming season. It will be followed by a position by position look at what training camp should hold for the Miami Dolphins.
Playing catch up, the Miami Dolphins according to my early predictions are sitting with a record of 7-1. The realistic record is likely to be 6-2 and the “should be” record is 5-3.
The Miami Dolphins head into November sporting a better record than most would have thought possible. With the first two months in the bag, the Dolphins are in sync and there should be talk about playoffs and possibly a division title. Let me say that again….”Should Be”.
The first weekend on tap for the November schedule is my only 100 percent pre-training camp guaranteed not to lose game. It’s the bye-week. The Dolphins come back from London and have almost two weeks to relax and prepare for their home game against the Bills.
Buffalo Vs. Miami
"The Miami D is in power mode and the Buffalo Bills are not a team to be taken lightly. This is a team that the Dolphins know they can beat, and should beat. However, it is a divisional game and therefore it is a game that cannot be looked past.Look for a strong game from Joey Porter and Will Allen. The Bills will likely use a combination of RB and DE to stifle Jason Taylor which means that Channing Crowder will get some time to make plays on JT’s side. Porter however should see some 1 on 1 and if this is the case, I think that Porter should be able to get into the backfield and disrupt J.P. Losman. Last year the Dolphins defense got pressure but they failed to contain him, leading to large gains. With Porter in the mix, look for that containment to come full circle. JP Losman should be in for a long day.The CB’s will have their hands full with the Buffalo WRs’, however, a deliberate and constant attack on the QB should make for shorter passes and easier coverages, Will Allen should be the main beneficiary of Losmans’ scrambling as should Yeremiah Bell at the safety spot. I would love to say that Jason Allen is going to be a key here, but with training camp still a few weeks away and J. Allen not looking good in mini-camps, I wonder what, if any impact he will have all year long."
"The Dolphins offense was horrible in the first match-up last year against the Bills. Brown rushed for 70 yards on 15 carries and added another 62 yards on 6 receptions. Those were the best numbers by far. Culpepper was sacked 6 times.Culpepper will be long gone at this point in the season and Trent Green is not going to take those kind of sacks. In fact, Buffalo last year was able to take advantage of an offensive line that had no continuity and a QB who couldn’t move. A luxury they will not have in this game.The Bills defense is a solid one. They will put pressure on the QB all day, they will force Miami to play a field position game early on until the Miami weather starts to break them down. Miami will have to ground out an early attack but with the departure of Nate Clements, the CB’s for the Bills will have their hands full with Chambers, Booker, Hagen, Marten, and maybe even Ginn. Ginn and Chambers will play a key roll as well. Both should be able to use their speed to keep the safeties away from the run, which in turn should help the running game. With the safeties back deeper than normal, and the CBs being forced to pursue deep routes or drop deeper to cover a zone, guys like Marten and Hagen should find the middle of the field covered by LBs. Play action pass would work great here, as it will freeze the LBs 5 yards off the line. Miami should find success with this and you can bet that it will at least be tried out."
"Miami 23 – Buffalo 12 I think if you have the Bills kicker in your fantasy league, might be a good time to play him."
Miami vs. Philadelphia
"The Eagles have a decent offense, but there has been an exodus in the last few years. Gone are Owens and Garcia as well as last years early standout WR Donte’ Stallworth. What is left on their offense is McNabb of course who has been injured the last two years at some point or another, backed by AJ Feely, yes the same one, rookie Kevin Kolb, and Kelly Holcombe. By this game it is not out of the question that McNabb will be injured and one of the other 3 will be playing.In addition to the QB dilemma, the WR’s are nothing special. Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis are the starters with Reggie Brown. The RB situation is a good one, when they are healthy. Correl Buckhalter is as solid a backup as they come, but he wears down and has spent a lot of time injured. Last year, fantasy owners were very happy with the play of Brian Westbrook. He was a very dangerous runner as well as a solid WR out of the backfield. He wore down later in the year, but this is mid-season and he will be a threat to deal with.Miami must stop Westbrook, and if they do, they will have an easier time controlling the ability of McNabb if he is in. If he is not in, then Miami needs to watch for Westbrook as the likely favorite target of the next QB. Pressure will be key if there is a QB other than Donavan. McNabb takes a lot of jabs and some are warranted, but when he is on, he is almost unstoppable. He can put together a great game and then follow it up a few games later with one that leaves you shaking your head. The CBs’ will have to work well together to keep the trio of starting WRs at bay, and Porter may not be able to rush the QB as much because of WestbrookIf all that wasn’t bad enough, the game is in Philly, perhaps the worst stadium of fans in the NFL."
"Philly has a solid defense, there have been some changes to the unit this year, but the unit as a whole should still be solid. Miami will be hard pressed to find quick scoring.The Dolphins need to plan out a well balanced attack of pass and rush. Setting up one with the other. The dink and dump game is likely to be back, which again in this case isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Dolphins must not allow themselves to get into 3rd and long situations, long meaning yardage over 4. Putting the game in a 3rd and short with Lorenzo Booker could be a key to the game. Booker should be able to get to the outside and pick up those few yards easily. Ronnie Brown will not likely reach the century mark in rushing this game, he will see a lot of passes out of the backfield.This is a game that Miami could win. It will be tough."
"Eagles 21 – Miami 17 I tend to think that the Philly fans will have a say in this game. Besides, going 8-1 is a little bit homerish."
Miami @ Pittsburgh:
"Many fans believe that this is nothing more than a game that Joey Porter will dominate. I wish I could agree. Joey Porter will have a decent but unspectacular game. The Dolphins were in the game until the end last year, but that was last year, different QB, different game plan.Porter will be electrified for sure, but his mouth could get in the way of his play. He needs to stay focused on the game and not the environment surrounding the game. Jason and Zach will have to settle him down a few times and that could detract from their focus as well.The Steelers had as many struggles last year as the Dolphins but still managed to pull a win against the Fins. This year there will likely be no QB motorcycle accident and the Dolphins will face Rothlisberger. Look for Miami to use some zone in this game and move Porter and Taylor around to confuse Big Ben. The running attack of Willie Parker will keep the Dolphins paying attention and if he gets on a roll then the game could get ugly quick.Miami has to play smart ball and although it seems easy there is always a big if. Still, the Dolphins that are still here on defense from last year, remember the outcome of the NFL season opener."
"Trent Green will need to be sharp. Throwing against a decent LB corp will be critical for the production of Dave Marten. In addition Ted Ginn is going to need to play this game in more than a special teams capacity. His speed will be needed to pull back Troy Polamalu from hovering around the middle of the field. If he can’t do that, then the Dolphin receivers will not likely see much separation and if the FS is not needed for the deeper coverage, the short game will not be a healthy one either.Ronnie Brown, if healthy, will have to be able to take a lot of pounding in this game. Yards will not be easy, but they will be there. Enough at least to keep the game close, and the game should be close to the end."
"Pittsburgh 21 – Miami 20 I think a late turnover will be the difference in this game."
At this point finishing out November, the Dolphins will have an optimistic record of 8-3, a realistic record of 7-4, and worst case scenario record of 6-5.