The Miami Dolphins are a week away from their regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Dolphins finished strong last season to make the playoffs as a wild card team. They went 10-6 and were an ascending team in the offseason.
Here are three predictions for the Dolphins this season.
#3. DeVante Parker will finish in the top 10 in receiving this season
Parker had a very good preseason. He improved from year one to two last season, but still had just 56 catches for 744 yards and four touchdowns. The former first round draft pick is capable of putting up a 75-catch, 1,000-yard, eight-touchdown season.
It looked like this could be the year he gets it, then quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a knee injury and the question marks arose. News turned positive again a few days later when the team signed Jay Cutler.
Cutler and Parker have worked well. Cutler has proven in the past that he is not afraid to just heave the ball up to a big receiver downfield. Parker, a 6-foot-3-inch, 212-pound outside deep threat, is just as talented as the receivers Cutler had when he played for the Chicago Bears.
Last season, Dolphins teammate Jarvis Landry finished 10th in the league 1,136 yards. Landry is facing an off-field domestic issue that likely will have a greater impact on next season, but is something to watch. Parker will take a lot of Landry’s production regardless of the legal issue.
#2. Byron Maxwell will lead the team and set a career-high in interceptions
Maxwell had just two interceptions in each of the last three seasons, but last season had 15 passes defensed. He joined the Dolphins last offseason and improved on a non-terrible 2015 season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Maxwell should shadow the opposition’s top receiver and will get opportunities for interceptions. The Dolphins will take a step back in the standings a bit with the more difficult schedule than they had last season and with Cutler at quarterback. That will hurt Maxwell’s totals, but he should still be able to catch five passes from opposing quarterbacks.
#1. The Dolphins will finish third in the AFC East division
Losing Tannehill will hurt the Dolphins. Cutler is just as talented as Tannehill, but his lack of leadership will lead to a sub-.500 record and third place finish in the AFC East. They will miss the playoffs by about three games. A tough beginning to the season, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home in Week 1 and a cross-country road trip to Los Angeles to face the Chargers, will put the Dolphins in a hole early.