What is a Power Rating?
Before this team preview begins, it’s important to note the purpose behind power ratings. Like power rankings, power ratings give NFL handicappers a foundational datapoint on every team to prepare for the season. Most handicappers use their power ratings to either determine or support where they would place the lines each week.
For the sake of this article, you’ll see I use a 0-100 power rating model. These ratings are not akin to grade school; a 93 is not an A, and a 47 is not failing. I use a 100-point scale for more nuance and, most importantly, to grade the disparity between NFL teams. Every ten points count as one point of line value. In this case, a team with an 85 rating would be four points better than a team with a 45 rating on a neutral field.
Conversely, power ratings should not be used as biblical truth. They should evolve throughout the season and act as a rubric for your wagers. I use six factors: Coaching, Starting QB, Offense, Defense, Leadership/Chemistry and Consistency/Toughness. These ratings and write-ups can be beneficial as we navigate the season. However, they are not the final word on where these teams stand. Every game requires unique, holistic research, and every matchup has its own confluence of factors to consider when handicapping. Those factors include motivation, schedule spot, rivalry value, weather, injuries, incentives and more. Power ratings are best applied as an objective, neutral analysis of a given team, so we’re approaching our wagers with a foundation of knowledge and thoughtful perspective.
Current Projected Win Total: 8.5
Schedule Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Power Rating: 61
The thesis statement for my assessment of the Miami Dolphins is quite simple: The Dolphins are a team of great potential, but it’s just potential. The biggest reason for that is Tua Tagovailoa. The second-biggest reason is a new coach in Mike McDaniel, who seems like an ideal fit, but that remains to be seen. We’ll stay away from over-analyzing McDaniel for now since there’s no way to know how good of a head coach he’ll be. We can surely discuss Tagovailoa though.
Tagovailoa had a decent season in 2021, throwing for 2,653 yards and 16 TDs at a 68% completion rate, but he was limited. It’s a term that’s been a theme in his pro career. He’s limited in arm strength, limited in accuracy, limited in athleticism and limited in pocket-presence, to name a few areas of concern. Since Tagovailoa has so much room to grow, and because “Starting QB” is among one of the most important factors in our power ratings, we simply can’t grade the Dolphins too highly to start the season.
On another note, Tagovailoa has the supporting cast you’d want if you were a struggling third year quarterback. It’s hard to deny the level of talent on this year’s Miami offense, and it’s all about speed. Miami signed Tyreek Hill through the 2026 season, adding perhaps the league’s most dangerous weapon to their offense. “Cheetah” thrived for years in Kansas City and if his experience on the Chiefs was any indication, he doesn’t need many precision down-field targets to create separation or put his offense in scoring situations. His presence alone should garner tremendous respect from defenses. If it doesn’t, McDaniel is sharp enough to make sure it does.
The talent doesn’t stop there. Miami still has Jaylen Waddle, a dependable tight end in Mike Gesiki, newly-signed veteran Terron Armstead on an offensive line that desperately needed a leader, and other new speedy additions in running backs, Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert. Indeed, this has the potential to be an extremely productive group.
The Miami defense, on the other hand, could take a hit this year. Brian Flores was, if nothing else, a defensively-minded, disciplinary presence and probably a big reason why they played so gritty against enemy offenses. If the Dolphins’ offense starts producing at a higher level that puts more pressure on a defense that won’t receive the same level of attention from Miami’s head coach. All of this is, of course, speculation, but it would be hard to reductively believe the coaching change equals a 100% positive.
This is a Dolphins defense that overperformed (very) often in previous seasons under Flores, although their secondary was mediocre in most data points last year. Their defensive line is average, although re-signing Emmanuel Ogbah (nine sacks, 26 solo tackles last year) was a good move, exercising the fifth-year option on DT Christian Wilkins (4.5 sacks, 49 solo tackles last year) helps and new acquisition Melvin Ingram III levels up their potential. In general, high-level scheming aided this defense and made them exceptional in seasons past; let’s see how they adjust this season.
In short, I think the Dolphins win total at 8.5 is exactly where it should be, i.e., we have no play. If I was forced, I would bet the under since the AFC East is only improving and it’s likely that the first year of a new coach and a new culture could cause growing pains. Still, I have to respect the potentiality of their offense and the proverbial spark that a new regime can create. For now, I’ll wait, observe, and hope South Florida can stay excited about a new-look Miami squad.