Could Patriots Rival Take NFL By Storm Before Another Collapse?

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Barring some sort of injury, the Miami Dolphins almost certainly will have the hype train rolling during the 2024 NFL season.

Mike McDaniel’s team will enter the new campaign with sky-high expectations. The Dolphins boast one of the NFL’s most talented rosters, especially at the supposedly premium positions (including the offseason signing of Odell Beckham Jr.). Perhaps no team can match their overall team speed, especially on offense, and the defense should be improved in 2024, too. Miami used two of its first four draft picks, including a first-rounder, on edge rushers for a unit that will be led by new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver who has had much success with game-changing rushers in Baltimore and Houston.

Under McDaniel, the Dolphins have typically been fast starters. Miami won eight of its first 11 games in his debut season, and they started the season 9-3 a year ago.

On this week’s episode of “The Spread” podcast, NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle kicked around some “last undefeated team” odds, and Doyle wonders whether the Dolphins could have some value.

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“One team I guess that immediately jumped out to me was Miami at 14-1, but I’m not — I have questions about Miami for the long haul,” he said. “They start hot, favored in every game until Week 9 when they visit Buffalo. … Those first eight weeks, all very winnable games. Again, that Thursday night game against Buffalo (in Week 2) is the coin-flip game, but they’re favored in each one of them and at 14-1, like you said, they generally start hot.”

Last remaining undefeated team (via FanDuel Sportsbook, as of May 24)
San Francisco 49ers +800
Detroit Lions +850
Kansas City Chiefs +1000
Cincinnati Bengals +1200
Philadelphia Eagles +1300
Miami Dolphins +1400
Green Bay Packers +1500
Houston Texans +1500

Of course, the Dolphins’ biggest question is not whether they can win in September and October, but it’s whether they can do it as the season winds down. Despite the combined 17-6 start to the last two seasons, the Fins also went a combined 3-8 in the remaining games over those seasons before losing in the wild-card round of the playoffs each year.

“It’s in line with the trend,” Cole said of the Dolphins’ potential for a hot start. “They start hot and fall off either because of injury or the weather.”

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One team that’s unlikely to get in the Dolphins’ way is the Patriots. Miami is 3-1 against New England with McDaniel as head coach, and that one loss came with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa out with an injury. The Alabama product has won all six of his starts against the Patriots. New-look New England gets its first crack at Miami at home in Week 5, meaning weather probably won’t be much of an advantage for the Patriots. The Dolphins are 4.5-point favorites for that game and are 7.5-point chalk for the Week 12 rematch on South Beach.

As for Cole’s pick, he thinks the Houston Texans could be the belle of the NFL ball this fall, which would make the Texans-Dolphins matchup in Week 15 especially important if both of “The Spread” fellas are especially clairvoyant.

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