Are the Miami Dolphins legitimate contenders in the AFC?

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 15: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins prepares to snap the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 15: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins prepares to snap the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Dolphins currently sit at 8-4 and have an AFC wildcard spot, but their schedule raises questions.

As of right now, the Miami Dolphins are 8-4. They currently hold a wild card spot in the AFC and still have a chance at winning their division. But just how good is this Dolphins team really?

On the edge of their showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs, and to determine if the Dolphins are actually a legit Super Bowl contender, we will look at each of their games this season.

Week 1: New England Patriots, Current record: 6-7
Result: 21-11 Dolphins loss.

At the start of the season, the Dolphins had Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. This game was not a pretty one for him, as he ended with 3 interceptions. On the other hand, the Patriots looked like a playoff team throughout the first three weeks of the season, as they beat the Dolphins and Raiders and had a narrow loss to the Seahawks.

Since this was the first game of the season, I’m not going to penalize the Dolphins for it. It was a sloppy game (as expected in Week 1) and the 3 interceptions from Fitzpatrick did not help at all.

Week 2: Buffalo Bills, Current record: 9-3
Result: 31-28 Dolphins loss.

This was the second straight divisional loss that led to an 0-2 start of the season for the Dolphins. The offense seemed to clean up some of their mistakes from the previous week, as Fitzpatrick threw for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns.

This is not a Bills team to joke about, as they are currently 9-3 and leading the AFC East. By no means are the Dolphins getting a pass for two straight losses, but they did put up a good fight in this matchup. They will have another opportunity to make amends on this loss in Week 17, when they play the Bills again in a game that could end up deciding who wins the division.

Week 3: Jacksonville Jaguars, Current record: 1-11
Result: 31-13 Dolphins win.

A win is a win in the NFL, but as the Jaguars only have one total win so far this season, this victory isn’t giving the Dolphins many style points. They got the job done, but this win does nothing to prove that the Dolphins are a legitimate title contender.

Week 4: Seattle Seahawks, Current record: 8-4
Result: 31-23 Dolphins loss.

Again, another close loss for this Dolphins team, adding up to three total losses through their first four games. The Seahawks are another formidable opponent, but the Dolphins couldn’t pull out the victory with another 2 interception game from Fitzpatrick.

Week 5: San Francisco 49ers, Current record: 5-7
Result: 43-17 Dolphins win.

This is a 49ers team that has had moments of success throughout the season, but looks nothing like they did a year ago. A 26-point blowout, nevertheless, still looks good on paper. I have to give the Dolphins credit here as they left no doubt and no opportunity for the 49ers to win this game.

Week 6: New York Jets, Current record: 0-12
Result: 24-0 Dolphins win.

Shutting out an opponent is always something to be proud of, but let’s not kid ourselves… it’s the Jets.

Week 8: Los Angeles Rams, Current record: 9-4
Result: 28-17 Dolphins win.

Out of all eight of the Dolphins’ wins this season, the Rams are the only team with a winning record. This was definitely a big win coming off of their bye week and it was also the first week of the Tua Tagovailoa experiment. While he didn’t have the best performance, the defense and special teams stepped up in big ways to lead the team to a win.

This performance showed that the Dolphins can still be successful as a team, even when the offense may not be performing up to standard. This is a terrific victory for a team that lacks a lot of quality wins.

Week 9: Arizona Cardinals, Current record: 6-6
Result: 34-31 Dolphins win.

This was a Cardinals team that looked explosive at the start of the season, but has slowly been fading away. If not for a miracle Hail Mary against the Bills in Week 10, they would have lost five straight games since this Week 9 matchup. Nevertheless, the Cardinals were 5-2 at the time of this game and the Dolphins came out with a narrow victory.

Week 10: Los Angeles Chargers, Current record: 3-9
Result: 29-21 Dolphins win.

This was the Dolphins fifth straight win. The Chargers do not have an impressive record at all; however, all of their games have been close besides an awful performance against the Patriots in Week 13. While it was a one-possession game, the Dolphins still came out with a win and I have to give them points for that. This is a Chargers team that has given everyone a run for their money, including the Chiefs.

Week 11: Denver Broncos, Current record: 4-8
Result: 20-13 Dolphins loss.

Tua Tagovailoa had a terrible performance this week, which led to the resurrection of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He almost led them to the win, but fell short with an interception at the end.

This is a tough loss for the Dolphins, as they had all the momentum heading into this game. There is no excuse for a loss like this and when looking at their season this game sticks out like a sore thumb. However, I cannot say that this loss defines the Dolphins’ season. Every team has a loss against an inferior team every once in a while, as we just saw when the Steelers lost to Washington 23-17.

Week 12: New York Jets, Current record: 0-12
Result: 20-3 Dolphins win.

Another win in the books against the Jets, but again… it’s the Jets. This is a win, but it doesn’t mean much of anything.

Week 13: Cincinnati Bengals, Current record: 2-9-1
Result: 19-7 Dolphins win.

Without Joe Burrow at quarterback, the Bengals offense is almost nonexistent. The Dolphins got the job done this week, but it wasn’t necessarily pretty,

Here’s a list of the Dolphins upcoming games:

The Dolphins’ season started off looking downward like the last, with losses in three of their first four games. However, they flipped the script and have since won seven of their last eight games.

Through 13 weeks, the combined record for Dolphins’ opponents is 52-91-1. This is definitely not the hardest schedule in the NFL, but still, to go from being 5-11 last year to now being 8-4 at this point in the season is extremely impressive.

Out of the eight wins that the Dolphins have this season, six have come against teams that currently have a losing record. This doesn’t prove that the Dolphins are “frauds” or “‘illegitimate”, but it does raise some questions about how good they truly are.

From looking at the performances that the Dolphins have put out this season, it’s easy to see that they are a team on the rise. Their three losses at the start of the season came against the Patriots, Bills, and Seahawks. None of those teams are ever a walk in the park to beat, and the Dolphins at least put up a respectful fight against each of them. It is also important to stress again that those early-season losses came when the Dolphins were still starting Ryan Fitzpatrick.

There are still four weeks left in the season, but if the Dolphins can win at least two of their last four games, then they should have a spot in the playoffs. While their wins are mainly against mediocre opponents, this is still a team that has been able to compete against some of the best in the NFL.

Over the last few years, “fear” wouldn’t be a word that comes to mind when thinking of playing against the Miami Dolphins, but if they end up making it to the playoffs this year, they could be a tough opponent for any team to face.

A big test is coming up for Miami this week when the Dolphins play the Chiefs. In this game, they will have the opportunity to prove themselves to the world. Whether or not they will be able to show that they are a legitimate contender is this week’s big question.