Is Miami’s Defense For Real?

The Dolphins’ defense sits atop Football Outsiders’ Defensive DVOA metric after two weeks by a comfortable margin. They have a -40.8% rating (negative is better than positive for defenses) with the Jets coming in at No. 2 with -26.4%. New York is closer to No. 9 Houston than they are to Miami at the top.

Odds To Win The AFC East
Patriots -500
Dolphins +450
Jets +1100
Bills +10000

Sure, the Dolphins “only” played the Titans and Jets and we don’t yet know how good or bad those offenses are. Still, the production is impressive. Aaron Schatz of FO examined how other teams have fared when putting up a defensive DVOA of at least -30% through two weeks. Thirty-Two teams since 2002 have started out with such a mark and on average they finished with a defensive DVOA of -9.5% or ranking 8.5 in the league. Only seven teams finished as worse than average (0%).

Miami, a team that finished 28th in defensive DVOA last season, has a good chance to finish in the top 10. Their upcoming schedule should provide a few tests, though outside of a trip to New England in week 4 and one to Green Bay in week 10, it’s not too daunting.

The match-up against the Raiders is the only thing keeping Miami from being 3-0 heading into that game with New England. The Dolphins offense has been conservative, though if it can rely on the defense to keep them in games, we could be looking at a playoff team. Odds of that before the season? +400.

*Odds per Bovada.

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