In recent seasons, the NFL has produced a fair share of surprisingly good teams. Just last season, the Atlanta Falcons almost won a Super Bowl after going 8-8 and scoring just 349 points (fifth-fewest in the NFC) in 2015.
Look at the 2014 Lions. The 2013 Panthers. The 2012 Texans.
And, maybe most importantly, the 2016 Raiders.
Coming off a 7-9 2015 campaign, the Raiders shocked most NFL fans with a 12-4 record and playoff appearance last season. While their expected win total (8.5) going into 2016 suggested they’d be a good team, nothing would have indicated double-digit wins, much less a team ending the regular season with the third-best record in all of football. The 2016 Raiders had stud receivers, a top-tier quarterback, a solid run game, and a decent defense. But — a year ago today — if someone told you they’d win 12 games, they’d be laughed out of any room.
Which brings us to the 2017 Miami Dolphins.
You may not remember this, but the 2016 Dolphins were 10-6 and made the playoffs. They had a point differential of -17 on the season, which might help fuel their low-ish predictive totals this season.
This is a team stacked with talent. Miami’s running back, Jay Ajayi, had 1,423 yards from scrimmage and scored eight touchdowns last season. The receiving corps is stacked, returning Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills to an Adam Gase/Clyde Christensen offense that will be in its second year of operation. As ugly as his last couple seasons have been, tight end Julius Thomas is still just 29 years old and had back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons in 2013 and 2014… under Gase in Denver.
And on top of all this, throw in Jay Cutler, who had his highest QB rating (92.3) while working under Gase in 2015.
So the Dolphins returns a high-powered offense, add a very good quarterback, they’re under the same staff and scheme from a year ago, the defense improved… and they’re expected to go down in wins? This is a team everyone should be all over and could stand to win plenty of money on with well-placed wagers.
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