The Dolphins made waves this offseason by hiring a bright offensive mind as head coach, trading for a star wide receiver, and signing the best free agent on the market.
And they look capable of shaking up the AFC East - for so long dominated by the New England Patriots, although now the realm of the Buffalo Bills.
No team finished the 2021 season on a hotter streak than Miami, which made it odd that they parted company with former HC Brian Flores.
But his replacement Mike McDaniel came with a glowing reputation and the front office seem determined to provide him with all the tools to succeed.
Alleviating the pressure on inconsistent young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will be a priority, but a Dolphins defense that created plenty of pressure up front last year and possesses playmakers in the backfield may only need slight adjustment to turn them into contenders again.
|What||NFL Season 2022/23|
|Where||All across the USA with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City|
|When||8th September 2022 - 12th February 2023|
|How to watch||The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports and bet365's Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||BUF Bills 6/1, TB Buccaneers 7/1, KC Chiefs 10/1, LA Rams 10/1, GB Packers 12/1|
3rd AFC East (9-8)
The Dolphins are coming off back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002-03 and will be looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The main question mark against them is probably at QB where Tagovailoa endured a rough rookie campaign followed by a so-so sophomore season.
The splashy trade for Tyreek Hill should open up the field for him to find some holes with easier short-range throws while the addition of Terron Armstead, a terrific blind-side protector when healthy, ought to buy him some more time in the pocket.
Miami also recruited three new running backs in a bid to fix a dysfunctional running attack that ranked dead last, 22nd and 30th in the league for rushing yards in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.
If the Dolphins' new trio of Raheem Mostert, Sony Michel and Chase Edmonds can handle the workload, 4/1 Miami could live up to their pre-season hype and challenge the 10/23 Bills for the AFC East crown.
For the third straight year, the Dolphins take on the New England Patriots in their opening game, but this time it's in Miami.
The Fins won last year's season opener at Foxborough, 17-16, and hold a 5-5 all-time record against the Patriots on opening day.
Much of the pre-game attention will again go to the competing former Alabama quarterbacks Tagovailoa and Mac Jones while added spice comes with the offseason trade of former Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker to the Patriots.
The Dolphins who are 5/7 on the Money Line, are 3-2 in their last five opening games, and the 6/5 Patriots haven't won in Miami since 2019.
How Miami fare in the early portion of their schedule will determine what the season looks like with a Week 2 game in Baltimore offering an early indication of whether the Dolphins or the Ravens are in better shape.
The Dolphins have not won at M & T Bank Stadium since 1997 with the Ravens winning the last four matchups while Miami have scored just six total points in their last two trips there.
The Dolphins' first matchup against the Bills comes at Hard Rock Stadium a week later with Miami sure to be extra motivated for the clash after Buffalo's 35-0 win in south Florida last year.
Then a prime-time matchup with the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals follows immediately on Thursday 29th September, before the Dolphins head to New York for another road game against the Jets.
If McDaniel's men can win three of their opening five games it should put them on a path to contend for the playoffs with easier games, at least on paper, to come in Weeks 6, 7, 8 and 9.
Known as an offensive-minded coach for much of his 17-year coaching career, McDaniel served on the Houston Texans, Washington, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons staff before really making a name for himself in San Francisco.
As the 49ers run game coordinator, San Francisco's offense averaged an outstanding 131.1 rushing yards per game, ranking sixth in the NFL over a two-season span prior to him taking over as offensive coordinator in 2021.
His innovative usage of third-year wide receiver Deebo Samuel in the Niners' rushing attack caught the imagination of the Dolphins when they hired him as head coach in January.
A Miami rush attack that finished 30th in the NFL for run yards last season, 26th in yards after contact and 31st in rushes of 10-plus yards could do with some McDaniel magic to get them going on the ground.
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Denver Broncos)
RB Raheem Mostert (San Francisco 49ers)
RB Chase Edmonds (Arizona Cardinals)
RB Sony Michel (Los Angeles Rams)
FB Alec Ingold (Las Vegas Raiders)
WR Tyreek Hill (Kansas City Chiefs)
WR Cedrick Wilson (Dallas Cowboys)
WR Trent Sherfield (San Francisco 49ers)
OT Terron Armstead (New Orleans Saints)
G Connor Williams (Dallas Cowboys)
DE Melvin Ingram (Kansas City Chiefs)
CB Keion Crossen (New York Giants)
WR DeVante Parker (New England Patriots)
OT Jesse Davis (Minnesota Vikings)
CB Juston Coleman (Seattle Seahawks)
QB Jacoby Brissett (Cleveland Browns)
RB Phillip Lindsay (Indianapolis Colts)
C Greg Mancz (Buffalo Bills)
RB Duke Johnson (Buffalo Bills)
WR Mack Hollins (Las Vegas Raiders)
LB Vince Biegel (Baltimore Ravens)
RB Patrick Laird (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
WR Will Fuller
DL Adam Butler
WR Albert Wilson
CB Jason McCourty
|Offensive MVP||Tyreek Hill|
|Defensive MVP||Xavien Howard|
|Top rookie||LB Channing Tindall (3rd Round)|
|Breakout star||OLB Jaelan Phillips|
Hill was a crucial part of the Kansas City Chiefs' success story in reaching the AFC Championship game in four straight seasons and winning Super Bowl LIV in 2020.
His production is bound to be affected by not having Patrick Mahomes' arm to find him, but he should still stretch opposition defenses enough to make a difference to Miami.
After some back and forth this offseason, two-time NFL interception leader Howard eventually signed a re-worked agreement that secures his future in Miami a little longer.
The cornerback has earned three Pro Bowl nominations and one first-team All-Pro selection in six seasons in the league
The 29-year-old has recorded 241 tackles, 71 passes defended, 27 interceptions (league-leading since 2016), four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Phillips should again create plenty of pressure up front after tallying 8.5 sacks as a rookie, but his play does need to become stouter against the run.