This is the final month of the NFL season and according to my recent predictions, the Miami Dolphins are entering December with an optimistic record of 8-3, a realistic record of 7-4, and a worst case record of 6-5.
To do a quick recap I have Miami losing to – NE, Pitt, and Philly, with possible losses to Dallas. In my worst case prediction, I gave one loss to the team for a let down game. Lets get to the final month.
NY Jets vs. Miami
"The Dolphins need to play the same way they played the Jets earlier in the year. The Jets could be on another one of their streaks but Miami has always been a formidable enemy. Over the last several years it seems that the Jets have owned Miami, and the records would show that they have. However, Miami has been in position to not only win the games but also put the Jets away. It is their own mistakes that have cost this team. The Dolphins defense is playing for the playoffs for a change and not pride. They will not let down, they will come after Pennington or whoever the QB is with fire. They are coming off a close loss to Pittsburgh and are finally home after a 2 game road stretch that saw them lose two in a row. They will be fired up, pumped up, and the Jets will have to get used to the south Florida December weather. The defense should follow the same game plan they used in the first month of the season."
"Trent Green is seasoned and he is now fighting for a playoff spot. A position he has been in before. It is December and to open the final month against a division rival is not going to be a problem for Green, who has come over from what some say has been the toughest division in the NFL the last few years. The offense of Miami should be able to wear down the Jets on the ground. With TE and RB screens, Miami should control this game from start to finish.The interesting part of this match up is the NFL flex scheduling. Should Miami be sitting at 8-3 and the Jets be sitting in that neighborhood, this could be the match-up of the week, if that is the case, don’t be surprised to see this game moved to Sunday night."
"Miami 28 – NY Jets 17 This game should not be as close as the score would indicate."
Miami vs. Buffalo
"The Dolphins travel north for a cold weather game against rival Buffalo and snow will likely be in the forecast. The Dolphins defense will not likely care. The Bill rushing attack consists of Rookie Marshawn Lynch and former Bear Anthony Thomas. Now a lot of Bills fans will get excited about the A-train, but he really never stood out in Chicago, who have a better Oline than the Bills. If the weather is bad, the Bills will need to rely on the running game and they are not going to find many running lanes with the Dolphins defense. If the weather is not bad, then Losman will once again try and test the improved Miami secondary. Lee Evans will catch his share of balls, he always does. The Bills just seem to know how to frustrate the Dolphins.Despite the attempts of the Miami defense to shut down Losman and Co. at home, it will be a dog fight and Buffalo should put up about 20 points. The problem is that Miami should put up more."
"This is not Trent Greens first rodeo in bad weather. Playing in KC he has seen his share of snow and heading into Denver late in the season and he has seen enough. Green will not be affected by the adverse conditions in terms of his play, what could affect his game is the howling winds which are not exactly nice up there. An ice cold rain could ground the passing game for both teams.Ronnie Brown and Lorenzo Booker should be able to make impacts throughout the game. Short bursts in the snow or ice with Brown and quicker steps with simple moves and Booker should have the Bills on their heels. In the event that the weather is just cold but not windy, Green should be able to get Chambers involved and Hagen or Booker as well.Miami should not have too many problems moving the ball as the Bills just are not as good a team as some make them out to be."
"Miami 23 – Bills 20 Closer than what you might think, and it could come down to the late 4th quarter. It is after Buffalo in Buffalo so who knows."
Baltimore vs. Miami
"Miami will have a rough game on both sides of the ball. Steve McNair is still playing at a better than average level and the acquisition of Willis McGahee will give Miami fits. The Oline is much better than what the Dolphins have faced with McGahee in Buffalo. However, that being said, the lack of a true number 1 WR is going to hurt the Ravens all year. As good as McNair can be, with no solid WR to throw to, even average coverage will be suffice. Derek Mason and Mark Clayton are the WRs’ and although neither of them are horrible, neither are that high above average to be considered a true threat.The Dolphins defense will try and control the game on blitz packages and stunts. Trying to disrupt the flow of the running lanes for McGahee should enable the Defense to put pressure on McNair all day long. If they can control the line of scrimmage, the game will never turn into much for the Ravens offensively."
"The Dolphins will have to face one of the top defenses in the league. Even without Adalius Thomas roaming the middle. Ray Lewis is still one of the premier LBs’ in the game and Ronnie Brown will get to know him pretty well. There really is not much on the Raven defense that is a weak link, so if the Dolphins are going to win this game they will have to do it on short passes and quick outs to keep the chains moving. If they can do that, it should be a close game.If the Dolphins try and go long and spread out the field, Green will not have a good day passing, and if the Dolphins fall behind by the 3rd quarter, the Raven defense will be in Greens face all day."
"Ravens 12 – Miami 10 I see this a low scoring drag out fight. I think that the Ravens win in late on a Dolphins turnover."
Miami vs. New England
"This is the game that has been talked about all year after the surprising start that the Dolphins have had. IF that holds true, this game will definitely be moved up to prime-time.The Dolphins defense will be pumped and by now they have had plenty of time to get enough tape on Brady and Moss and Co. The Defense will once again have to shut down Maroney in order to force Brady to pass and thus feel the pressure of the Dolphins.The DBs’ will have to once again be on their game and Zach Thomas may very well play the biggest roll of all, as he will have to likely cover Welker over the middle. This game should be a lot closer than game 1, and the intensity should be off the charts. Like in the first game, the Dolphins must force Brady to make mistakes and keep the Dolphins offense on the field."
"Trent Green and the rest of the Dolphins offense have to play flawlessly. Green has to expose the weaknesses with precision and force the Patriots to play the style of game that the Dolphins want them to.Green has to be patient and try and expose the middle of the field behind Adalius Thomas with enough play action to open up the running game.The weather could be and likely will be horrid if not worse than what they faced in Buffalo. Truth be told, a solid winter storm with ice and snow could play perfectly into the Dolphins hands."
"NE 20 – Miami 14 If the weather is really bad, I think Miami will win it 9-6."
Cincinnati vs. Miami
"The final game is at least a home game. The Dolphins will have to shut down Palmer, Rudy Johnson, and Chad Johnson. This is going to be a game that the Dolphins may find themselves winning and they are into the playoffs, losing and they go home.The benefit the Dolphins have here in this game is Mr. Porter. Joey has faced the Bengals 2 times every year in his career thus far. He knows the small signals that Palmer will give off. He will be able to help the rest of the team prepare for them.The game however will be won or lost in the defensive backfield. Miami must contain Johnson and Houshmanzada or the day will be a very long one."
"The Miami Dolphins must have a solid combination of run and pass so that the Bengals do not key in on one area and thus force the offense to use the other.Green should be able to use Marten and Chambers to his advantage and create some one on one mismatches with the LBs’. If he can do that, Ronnie Brown will see some holes to run through. If they can’t, they can forget about winning.The key to the offense in this game is the running attack. It will eat up the clock, wear down the defense, and if successful, will open the passing game."
"Cincinnati 28 – Miami 24 I think in the end, the Bengals just get the right bounces."
That will wrap up my pre-training camp predictions for the Dolphins 2007 season. I have them finishing with a record of 10-6. More realistic would be 9-7 and worst case they will finish 8-8.
The Dolphins still have a ways to go before they are a serious and legit contender. It will not be this year. If there will be one thing to take away from this year is that Miami will actually look like they are headed in a good direction. Cam Cameron may not be a great coach, but he at least should give Dolphins fans something to cheer about.