The Miami Dolphins are one of two unbeaten teams left in the AFC.
There’s no secret behind how they’ve become one of the better teams and favorites in the NFL. It’s through a fun offense that is predicated on speed. Now comes a matchup with a Denver Broncos defense that just got torched by a rookie quarterback a week ago. Is this Dolphins start sustainable?
DraftKings Sportsbook has the Broncos as a near-touchdown underdog at +6.5. How this number isn’t closer to 10 is a bit of a mystery, perhaps that’s based more on Miami’s defense than anything else. The total sits at 48. On the young season, the over/under is 1-1 in Denver games.
To preview Sunday’s game, we go behind enemy lines to get a feel for the Dolphins heading into Sunday’s game with Kevin Nogle from The Phinsider.
MHR: How are Dolphins fans feeling after the first two weeks of the season? Is this start sustainable?
Kevin: Obviously, the fans are excited about such a strong start from the Dolphins, but I think there is still a sense of needing the team to prove they really are this team. Injuries are always on the minds of fans, especially when it comes to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and we all know the step back the team would take if Tagovailoa misses time.
I think the key for the Dolphins right now is that the offense feels comfortable with head coach Mike McDaniel’s scheme having been in it for a full year now. The defense is still working on the nuances of new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s system, but they definitely looked a lot better last week than they did in Week 1. If they can continue to grow into what should be a really strong defense, Miami really will be able to sustain performances like we have seen early this season.
MHR: How much fun is the Dolphins offense, and is there a weakness opposing defenses can expose (obviously not Denver’s)?
Kevin: Fun really is the best way to describe Miami’s offense. The Dolphins have so much speed at so many places that they can create mismatches all over the field. If you put a safety on top of Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle will have a big game. If you double team both of them, running back Raheem Mostert will take advantage of the light defensive front or come out of the backfield as a receiver. Tight end Durham Smythe is starting to be used as a receiving option, wide receiver Erik Ezukanma has been lining up in the backfield and running the ball, Braxton Berrios is turning into a solid slot receiver, and wide receiver River Cracraft does just about everything the team needs.
We will have to see if Waddle can clear the concussion protocol before this weekend, but if he is not available, the team may bring Robbie Chosen up from the practice squad. He is not Waddle, but he does keep the team having a tandem of speedy wide receivers if he is paired with Hill.
The Dolphins ran well last week, but we are not sure they are actually a good running team yet. I would try to force them into proving they can run the ball.
MHR: What has Vic Fangio brought to the Miami defense and how much better can this unit get? Speaking of the defense, has the trade for Bradley Chubb paid off?
Kevin: We are still trying to figure out exactly what Miami’s defense is this year. Losing Jalen Ramsey in the preseason hurt a lot, but they seem to be figuring it out. Like I said earlier, the nuances are still being learned, with the players still trying to make sure they are int he right place at the right time rather than just instinctively being there. As they become more comfortable with the system, we should see the defense move up the overall rankings.
What has been nice is Fangio seems to be blitzing more than anticipated. The Dolphins defense the last few years was built to be a blitzing defense. Fangio seems to be adapting his scheme to use the strength of the players.
Chubb has been solid, but nothing spectacular for most of his time in Miami. Last week, he was spectacular. Is Fangio’s system putting him in position to be the player the Dolphins wanted when they traded for him? Hopefully the answer to that is yes, and we continue to see it this weekend.
MHR: What is your best bet for Sunday’s game at DraftKings Sportsbook? And what do you think about the current spread?
Kevin: I am not used to seeing Miami as a touchdown/near-touchdown favorite. It feels strange. But, this team seems to be a team that should be able to be a big favorite at times this year. I probably give the points this week, with Miami able to cover.
And as I say that, I start to feel anxious about the prediction.
MHR: What are your expectations and predictions for Sunday’s game?
Kevin: I am expecting Miami to come out looking to get Hill involved early and to keep the Broncos on their heels. They will attack early to turn the Broncos into a one-dimensional team, then let the pass rushers get after Russell Wilson. I think Miami is pushing for somewhere around 30 points again - their average through the first two games - and since I already said I think the Dolphins cover, I will say 31-24.