The best team entering NFL Week 9 is obviously the Miami Dolphins… or is it? They’ve beaten the bad, but have yet to compete with the good. Who am I? Week 9 holds the answer.
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We were ready to crown the Miami Dolphins as the best team in the league. Their offense felt peerless, their defense adequate enough. The coaching and playmaking was unparalleled. We kept hearing over and over how often Miami players were in motion at the snap. It was throwing off the entire league!
Heading into NFL Week 9’s matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany, that all might still be true. However, another possibility has also entered the conversation. It is possible, even likely perhaps, that Miami is not the top contender in the league and is instead a team that only punches down.
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The Dolphins are 6-2. After each slipup, we see them rebound in full force. They have looked utterly dominant in those six wins. What’s not to love? Well, the current, combined record of those six opponents that Miami has beaten is 13-33 (counting New England’s record twice since they are “two” of the six opponents). That’s 13-33! None of those teams has a winning record. Against the only two teams on their schedule thus far that can be considered good, Miami is 0-2, losing by a combined score of 79-37.
So, is it possible that the Phins can’t rise to the occasion, can’t compete with the truly good teams in this league? What if the Dolphins can only beat up on weak opponents, and when true talent comes calling, the game plan sputters and fails? It all comes to a head in NFL Week 9.
NFL Week 9: Dolphins Under the Gun
Todd Salem: Miami Is An Anomaly
It is true that Tua Tagovailoa struggles against pressure, as do most quarterbacks. However, according to Next Gen Stats, Tua gets the ball out faster than any QB in the league. He has the smallest time from snap to throw in the game. When defenses take away that first look and he’s forced to hang in the pocket or make additional reads, things break down. Tua has the second-largest drop in effectiveness based on pickable throws when pressured.
It’s still a small sample for 2023. We could certainly see Miami take it to Kansas City in NFL Week 9. After all, the Chiefs have been beatable as well, though not against the teams we would expect. Is that actually worse? Playing my own devil’s advocate, isn’t it a good thing to beat everyone you’re supposed to beat? Both KC and Miami enter this contest with identical 6-2 records. They have very similar point differentials as well. It could be argued that the Dolphins have the better resume.
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So where do you stand? Is it better to be someone who always aligns with the level of the opponent, never getting upset but never pulling an upset (Figuratively. I don’t mean strictly based on the betting line.)? Or is it better to have a ceiling to beat anyone, but also the possibility of losing any given Sunday?
In my opinion, this is an oddly big game for Miami. Another loss when playing a good team will feel damning. A win will silence the earlier narrative completely (unless Mahomes is still sick). It’s not like the Dolphins are a gimmicky team, but I need to see their scheme and execution work against an actual playoff contender. Otherwise, even if it doesn’t make logical sense, the best offense we’ve seen in quite some time could be kind of a fluke.
Dan Salem: Dolphins Enter The Gauntlet
I’ve been skeptical of the Dolphins all season, mainly because we witnessed them collapse in the second half of last year. Yes, it was partly due to injuries, but they’ve felt like a warm weather team that simply can’t execute as well once winter hits. Miami becomes their only warm safe-haven and that’s simply not good enough. Don’t get me wrong, the Dolphins are very good and better than I anticipated. You absolutely must beat the bad teams and if your schedule is full of them, good for you. But to be a real contender, you must actually contend with the other top teams. You must beat them, plain and simple.
The Dolphins must absolutely play well versus Kansas City. Miami really needs to win in order to shrug this stigma they’ve unintentionally adopted. But the biggest games of their season come against the New York Jets. The reason is two-fold. New York has one of the best defenses in the entire league and has shut down Mahomes, Hurts, and Allen. Will Tua become number four, or be an exception like Dak Prescott? In addition, they play the Jets twice in three weeks and these games may decide the AFC East division title. New York is about one game behind and division record is crucial to a division title. Buffalo is staring the outcomes of these two games right in the face.
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My gut tells me that each of New York and Miami win at home, meaning they split and we get no clear answer to the question of just how good the Dolphins actually are. This brings us all the way back to the upcoming NFL Week 9 game against Kansas City. The Chiefs have been vulnerable all season, but they are the defending champions with one of the top records in the NFL. Miami must beat the Chiefs, otherwise the “mediocre” narrative continues.
Finally, answering the question you asked, I believe it’s better to beat the teams on your schedule. That is the only thing you control. I’d actually prefer to beat all the bad teams in humiliating fashion, like the Dolphins are doing, and struggle against the “better” teams. This is because those dominant victories build confidence and momentum. When the time comes in the playoffs to once again face those “better” teams, you’ve built a ton of confidence that will help you finally beat them when it matters most. At least in principal.
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
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