At 9-3 early in December, the Miami Dolphins looked destined to win their first division championship in 15 years and potentially earn a first-round bye in the playoffs.
That fell by the wayside over the final two weeks of the regular season, however. Miami was dismantled in Buffalo in Week 17, giving the Ravens the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. On Sunday night, in the final regular season game of the 2023 NFL season, Miami coughed up a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 21-14 home loss to the surging Buffalo Bills, who won the AFC East.
Buffalo earned the No. 2 seed in the postseason and Miami, which clinched a playoff spot on Christmas Eve after beating Dallas, dropped to the No. 6 seed. The wild card spot means the Dolphins would likely have to go on the road and win three times to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1984.
The Dolphins are +1600 to win the Super Bowl at FanDuel Sportsbook heading into the Wild Card Round.
At +1600, they have an implied probability of 5.88% to win the Super Bowl. A $100 bettor would win $1,600 if Miami could hoist its first Lombardi Trophy since going back-to-back in 1972-73.
Can the Miami Dolphins win the Super Bowl?
Miami looked like a Super Bowl contender for much of the year with head coach Mike McDaniel running an up-tempo, motion-filled offense that left defenses desperate to match their speed. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was garnering MVP consideration, running back Raheem Mostert set the single-season franchise record for touchdowns and wide receiver Tyreek Hill was on pace for a 2,000-yard campaign.
The defense, led by veteran coordinator Vic Fangio, was rounding into form after an average start to the year.
Injuries took its toll on both sides of the ball for Miami. On offense, Mostert missed the final two games of the regular season and talented rookie running back De’Von Achane missed six games. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle missed three games, as well.
On defense, Miami lost pass-rushers Bradley Chubb (knee) and Jaelen Phillips (achilles) for the year. In Sunday’s loss to Buffalo, linebackers Andrew Van Ginkel (foot) and Cameron Goode (knee) left the game and did not return.
There’s no telling yet how many currently sidelined Dolphins will be available for the postseason. Even prior to the slew of injuries, Miami struggled when they had to face formidable opponents. The Dolphins went 9-2 this season against non-playoff teams and 1-5 against teams that made the postseason.
There would be a significant home-field advantage for Miami playing its fast-paced style in the Sunshine State. That advantage flew out the window over the final two regular-season games and now the Dolphins would need road wins in the cold, wet NFL venues like Kansas City, Buffalo and Baltimore.
Miami can’t finish strong for second year in a row
History tends to repeat itself and that’s the case with the 2023 Miami Dolphins. Miami controlled its own destiny to win the AFC East, but faltered down the stretch (3-3) and will now have to go on the road in the playoffs.
Part of that equation was the Buffalo Bills’ winning five straight and six of seven after a 5-5 start. Last season? The same. Buffalo was 6-3 and won its final seven games to win the division. Miami started 8-3 and lost five straight, forcing them to go to Buffalo with a backup quarterback in the first round of the playoffs. The Bills won, 34-31.
Miami is an underdog to the defending Super Bowl champions
The Dolphins are a slight underdog in the first round of the playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, Jan. 13 at Arrowhead Stadium. Miami is a 3.5-point underdog to Kansas City and +158 on the money line (win the game outright), which gives the Dolphins a 38.76% chance of advancing. A $100 bettor would profit $158 if Miami could win its first playoff game since 2000.
The Chiefs beat the Dolphins, 21-14, earlier this season in Frankfurt, Germany. Kansas City’s defense, which ranks second overall in the NFL, permitted just 292 total yards.
The total (over/under) in the game is at 44 points. The Chiefs were the worst team in the NFL this season to the over, going 5-12 and missing the number by an average of 6.8 points per game. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is 9-2 all-time in playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium.
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