Could Dolphins be a surprise adversary for the Browns in AFC?

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The Cleveland Browns have very high goals for the 2021 season after a winning season and a playoff victory in the Wild Card round.

With Kansas City coming off multiple trips to the Super Bowl, the Baltimore Ravens dominating the AFC North, and the Buffalo Bills taking control of the AFC East from the New England Patriots, those three have been the focus of attention along with the Browns related to the AFC Championship.

Like most years, surprises should always be expected in the NFL. While the focus will likely be on the Chiefs, Browns, Ravens, and Bills, the Miami Dolphins could be one of the teams that barges their way into the conversation.

The Dolphins missed the playoffs in 2020 despite a quality 10 – 6 season. Since, the team committed to Tua Tagovailoa, signed Will Fuller to add speed, and traded for Benardrick McKinney.

The Dolphins followed with an impressive draft class. Speedy receiver Jaylen Waddle joins Fuller and holdover, DeVante Parker, as a top-level receiving corps. With their next two picks, the Dolphins upgraded their defense with edge rusher Jaelan Phillips and safety Javon Holland. The offense continued to get upgrades with Liam Eichenberg on the offensive line and Hunter Long at tight end.

With Brian Flores steadying the ship, the Dolphins have a solid balance between young veterans and new additions to make a charge at the Browns and the rest of the top of the AFC.

For Miami, the key will be the development of Tagovailoa at quarterback after being in and out of the lineup as a rookie last year. In 10 games, threw for over 1,800 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. While he completed 64% of his passes he only averaged 6.3 yards per attempt while doing so.

Playing it safe, especially with the speed additions of Fuller and Waddle, won’t get it done for the Dolphins offense.

On defense, two of the Dolphins’ biggest moves were releasing veteran Kyle Van Noy and trading Shaq Lawson in the move that brought in McKinney. Miami will now rely on Emmanuel Ogbah and Phillips, in his rookie season, to provide the pass rush.

Going 10 – 6 a year ago, the Dolphins pushed the Browns, and others, for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. With additional talent and very few losses, the Dolphins should be better than they were a year ago. Thankfully for the Browns, they also added talent and had very few losses from their roster.

While the Browns will be talked about amongst the top of the AFC heap with the Chiefs, Ravens, and Bills, there are a few teams that could join that conversation this season. Don’t be surprised if the Dolphins are one of them.