Sports Illustrated has spoken on the 2017 Miami Dolphins, and the words are not good.
In its annual NFL preview issue hitting the stands, SI picks the Dolphins to finish second in the AFC East but with just a 7-9 record, meaning a step back from last year’s 10-6 in Adam Gase’s first year.
In a real shocker, SI figures New England will win the division (at 14-2), followed by Miami, Buffalo (5-11) and, way down deep, the New York Jets (3-13).
In even less-palatable news for Dolphins fans, SI picks the Patriots to beat the Packers in the Super Bowl.
Projected division winners are the Titans (10-6), Steelers (11-5), Raiders (10-6), Giants (10-6), Falcons (12-4), Vikings (11-5) and Seahawks (11-5). Wild cards go to the Ravens (9-7), Chiefs (10-6), Bucs (10-6) and Packers (11-5).
A few points on how SI views the Dolphins:
• In its position rankings, the magazine rates Miami’s offensive line as the strength of the team and the eighth-best in the league, which is curious given the uncertainty of the center of the line due to Mike Pouncey’s health and the guard situation.
• In its player rankings, SI lists Ndamukong Suh as the 51st-best player in the NFL, followed by Pouncey (90), Cameron Wake (134) and Rashad Jones (142). The surprise might be Jarvis Landry, rated no better than No. 178.
• The QB rating is No. 22, skill positions No. 10, front seven No. 20 and DBs No. 16.
• Given the presence of Pro Bowl linemen Suh and Wake, the low defensive line rating also might raise eyebrows. Keep in mind, however, the lackluster play of the linebackers.
• In analyzing the D-line, the magazine focuses on the tackles, mentioning Suh but also spilling ink on Jordan Phillips, who “has the size to play nose shade (the gap between the guard and center) and the quickness to cross over a blocker and penetrate.” Fine, except for one part: Phillips has a good chance of being overtaken for the starting role by rookie Davon Godchaux.
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Join our reporters for a special evening as they talk NFL with Dolphins Pro Bowl Guard Jermon Bushrod, two-time Super Bowl champion Bob Kuechenberg and former Dolphins Pro Bowl linebacker Kim Bokamper on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Bokamper’s Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to the first 100 people and will include raffles, light bites and drinks.