Saints, Eagles Strike Trade for Draft Picks

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Just 24 days before night one of the 2022 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to a trade that involves three first-round picks this year and an additional first next year, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

This NFL Draft trade features the Eagles, who held three first-round picks entering the day, giving up the 16th overall pick, the 19th overall pick, and a 6th rounder (pick 194 overall) to the Saints in exchange for the 18th overall pick, a third-round pick (pick 101 overall), a seventh-round pick (pick 237 overall), a 2023 first-rounder, and a 2024 second.

Philadelphia holds 10 total picks in this month’s draft, five of which will be in the first three rounds, while New Orleans will have seven selections, four of which coming in the draft’s first two days.

What This Means for the Eagles

In the immediate aftermath of this NFL Draft trade, Schefter reported that this likely ensures Jalen Hurts will start for the second consecutive season in Philadelphia. With the Eagles’ three first-round picks, some had speculated that the team could move up and select a quarterback in this year’s draft.

2023 is a much better class at the quarterback position, featuring Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Philadelphia is now well-positioned to move up, should Jalen Hurts turn in an underwhelming season and neither of their first-round picks put them in position to select their preferred choice. 

The Eagles continue to put themselves in flexible positions in future drafts with plenty of ammunition to either add cheap, young talent or move the picks for other assets. They’re also still in good shape to address two of their big holes, linebacker and wide receiver, with picks 15 and 18 putting them in prime position to add some of the top players in the class, such as Utah’s Devin Lloyd and USC’s Drake London.

What This Means for the Saints

Before bringing back Jameis Winston, the New Orleans Saints were one of the final two teams in the Deshaun Watson saga (along with the Atlanta Falcons) before Watson changed course and decided on Cleveland. By acquiring an additional first-round pick in 2022, the Saints now have the pieces needed to move up again; they recently had Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, a projected top-10 pick, in for a visit.

An interesting element to this deal is Winston’s contract; it’s a two-year deal worth $28 million and $21 million in guarantees, but features a $14 million signing bonus. It’s primarily a front-loaded contract guarantee-wise, meaning New Orleans wouldn’t suffer having Winston ride the bench in 2023.

Further, now left without a first-rounder in 2023, the Saints don’t have next year as a fallback option; unless they’re all-in on Winston, they’re likely to pursue a quarterback this year.

Should they choose to stick with Winston, New Orleans has a Terron Armstead-sized hole at left tackle. Mississippi State’s Charles Cross is the ideal option for New Orleans, but he’s a likely top-10 pick.

The Saints are also in desperate need of a wide receiver. Michael Thomas hasn’t been able to stay on the field the past two seasons, and the room around him is rather lackluster. Ohio State’s Chris Olave is one name to monitor at the position.

Regardless, with the picks they gave up, the Saints appear to believe they can contend in the NFC this year. That philosophy lends itself favorably to addressing OT and WR, but another trade-up seems likely nonetheless.

Who Won the Trade?

Ultimately, nobody can truly win until all of these picks are made and they’re given time to produce. However, on paper, the Philadelphia Eagles got the better deal.

ESPN’s Seth Walder reported that the Eagles “gained the equivalent of a late-first rounder in value through the trade IF — and this is a big if — we treat 2022 and 2023 picks as equals in terms of value.”

Teams often tend to under-value future draft picks, but if this deal gets the Saints two immediate starters and a playoff berth, it’s ultimately a win for them. However, should the Saints fail to hit on their picks and trend towards a rebuild, this deal could be heavily detrimental in the long run.

That’s the fun part of this specific NFL Draft trade and others like it — very easy to analyze, but very hard to accurately project long-term effects, as value changes once the players’ careers play out.

Miami Dolphins Playoff Chances

The Dolphins have won their last five games. What remains to be seen will be a hope for a playoff push. @rishidesa1 show how they can get there.

miami dolphin playoff chances
Credit: PhinPhanatic

If you told me in August that the Miami Dolphins would start the season 1-7, I would’ve told you that you’re crazy. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. At 1-7, if you told me the Dolphins would win five straight, get to 6-7, and have a chance to win-out and make the playoffs, I would’ve called you a lot more things than just “crazy.”

However, that is exactly the point we have reached. The Dolphins have won five games in a row, the defense looks elite, and Tua and the offense are slowly finding a rhythm. Can the once 1-7 Miami Dolphins make the playoffs and what are the Miami Dolphins playoff chances?

Dolphins Remaining Schedule

After their Week 14 bye, the Dolphins will have four games remaining. They host the Jets, visit the Saints, visit the Titans and former QB Ryan Tannehill, and lastly host OROY favorite Mac Jones and the Patriots in Week 18. Clearly, every game is very likely a must win game. 

New York Jets

The Dolphins have won four of their last five games versus the Jets, and most people expect them to make it five of six. Miami easily beat New York less than a month ago at MetLife Stadium and shouldn’t struggle too much with the 3-9 squad in a humid Hard Rock Stadium. 

Of course Miami’s bye week is seen as a chance to get healthy and have extra time to prepare for the Jets. However, it is also coming at a point in which Miami has won five straight games and a bye week could put a dagger in Miami’s momentum.

If the defense continues to perform at an elite level, beating a Jets team lead by rookie QB Zach Wilson shouldn’t be a problem.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have lost five straight games. They have uncertainty in their QB room as Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill are both playing below average football, the wide receiver(WR) room is depleted, and overall seem to be struggling in the post Drew Brees era. 

The Saints will be a far tougher challenge than the Jets though. Compared to the Jets bottom tier defense, the Saints are a top-15 defense in the NFL. Miami’s offense, although performing a little better as of late, has been inconsistent. 

Even though Miami upset Baltimore in their last primetime game, the narrative that they do not perform well in primetime is still overshadowing the team. Going into a packed Caesars Superdome on primetime will be a tough challenge for Brian Flores’ young squad, but there’s no reason to believe they can’t win this game.

Tennessee Titans

The schedule gets harder by the week for Miami. In Week 17, Miami will travel to Tennessee to take on their former franchise QB, Ryan Tannehill. This game looks a lot less challenging now that RB Derrick Henry is dealing with a foot injury he suffered earlier in the year. 

The Titans started out 8-2 but have dropped two straight games in embarrassing fashion. They lost to the two-win Texans and were blown out by the Patriots. 

Regardless, they are still the No. 2 seed in the AFC, and a Mike Vrabel lead team can always pose a great challenge. 

Fortunately for Miami, the Titans offense has struggled, and the defense is once again having issues. 

The Titans have averaged just 16.3 points over their last three games, while Miami’s defense has returned to its elite form from 2020.

On the other side of the ball, the Titans defense has also struggled. Tennessee has allowed over 280 passing yards in two of their last three games to teams who haven’t had the most aggressive passing attacks in New England and New Orleans. In their last three games, they’ve allowed over 26 points per game. 

A struggling Tennessee defense will help Miami immensely as the offense needs all the assistance they can get. 

The weather will likely play a role in this game. For a team like Miami who is used to playing under the scorching sun year round, a game in Tennessee in the winter will not be easy. 

If things continue the way they have for both teams, the Dolphins should have a good chance of winning and keeping their playoff hopes alive.

New England Patriots

If all things go according to plan, this game will be the final factor in deciding Miami’s fate. 

The Patriots started 2-4 and are the only team hotter than the Dolphins right now. They’ve won seven straight games, lead the AFC East, and currently hold the first seed in the AFC.

The defense has turned it on and they look like a championship defense.

Offensively, they’ve looked very efficient and rookie Mac Jones has done what he’s been asked. The Patriots scored 36, 25, and 45 points in the three games before their Week 13 snow matchup versus Buffalo.

Miami will have a slight advantage as they always seem to have an edge versus the Patriots when playing at home. Miami is 6-2 in their last eight matchups versus New England in South Florida. 

Expect this to be a heavily defensive matchup with two head coaches who are known for torturing young quarterbacks. 

If Miami can methodically pick apart the New England defense one play at a time(as they did to the Panthers and Giants), and the defense continues their elite run, Miami should have a good chance to win this game.

Is there a chance Miami can lose a game and still make the postseason? Yes. However, that is very unlikely. Miami needs to win-out and hope for some help from other teams.

Teams Ahead Of Miami

If Miami wins out, it’s not guaranteed they make the postseason; but the odds are in their favor.

  • Chargers, 7-5: The Chargers have been inconsistent this season but hold the 5th seed. They have five games remaining and three of them are against potential playoff teams. 
  • Cincinnati, 7-5: The Bengals currently hold the 6th seed. Their remaining five games are all against teams who currently hold a playoff spot or are firmly in the hunt. They were just dominated by the Chargers and have a tough slate of games to finish the season. 
  • Buffalo, 7-5: Buffalo holds the last spot in the AFC playoff picture for now. Just a year removed from an AFC Championship game appearance, they find themselves facing slight uncertainty. Of their remaining five games, two are against current playoff teams(Tampa and New England). Two other teams are in the hunt.
  • Pittsburgh, 6-6-1: The Steelers were dominated last night versus the Vikings and it doesn’t get easier. They have arguably the hardest closing stretch of the teams in the hunt. They close the season against three division leaders and Cleveland.
  • Indianapolis, 7-6: The Colts have their bye week this week. After that, they have four games remaining. Two of those are against division leaders. Another is against Las Vegas who is still squarely in the hunt. It is important to note that the Colts own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami.
  • Las Vegas, 7-6: Like the Colts, the Raiders also own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami. Vegas ends their season with three divisional games, and every team they play is firmly in the hunt or currently holding a spot in the playoffs. They have a difficult schedule for a team that has been very inconsistent as of late.
  • Cleveland, 6-6: The Browns defense has been excellent this season, but their offense has held them back. The Browns finish their season with five straight potential playoff teams, similar to other teams in the hunt. If their offense continues to struggle, they may very well find themselves in a bad spot by Week 16.
  • Denver, 6-6: Denver hosts the one-win Lions in Week 14. Denver then faces three teams who are currently in the playoffs and Las Vegas, who is already ahead of them.

It seems very clear Miami has one of the more favorable closing schedules out of any team in the hunt. Most teams finish with four or five straight potential playoff teams. In Miami’s case, their schedule gets slightly harder each week, and they could be controlling their own destiny in Week 17.

Miami isn’t playing this week, but can make up serious ground on some of the teams above.

Tiebreakers

  • If Miami finishes with the same record as Buffalo, Buffalo will finish ahead of Miami as Buffalo owns the head-to-head tiebreaker this season 2-0.
  • Miami will also the head-to-head tiebreaker to Las Vegas due to their early season loss to the Raiders when Tua Tagovailoa was injured.
  • The Colts, currently one game ahead of Miami, also hold the head-to-head tiebreaker due to their win in Miami over Jacoby Brissett.
  • Miami does own the head-to-head breaker over Baltimore, but that won’t matter if the Ravens win the AFC North.
  • Miami will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over New England assuming the Dolphins win out. However, like the Ravens, it won’t matter if New England wins the AFC East. 

The Dolphins currently have a 4-5 record in the AFC. Winning out will give them a 7-5 record in the AFC and may play a role in tiebreakers in Week 18.

Will This Matter?

There’s a chance none of this will matter by 4:00 PM on December 19th. If they lose to New York, the Miami Dolphins playoffs chances will take a serious hit. 

Miami has to take care of their business, go one week at a time, and win out. If they can do this, there’s a great chance they will be the first team to start 1-7 and make the postseason.

Follow Rishi Desai on Twitter.

Patriots, Saints, Jekyll & Hyde, Unicorns and Show Ponies

Analysis and Prediction of the Patriots match up with the New Orleans Saints.

FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 13: Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins #85 of the New England Patriots catches the game winning touchdown in front of cornerback Jabari Greer #33 of the New Orleans Saints in the closing seconds of the Patriots 30-27 win at Gillette Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

This weekend will feature a battle of 1-1 teams in Foxborough as both look to gain some direction for the rest o their season. The Patriots had a one-point loss at home to the Dolphins in the opener before making Zach Wilson see ghosts in Metlife in week 2. The Saints absolutely dismantled the Packers in Jacksonville week 1 before putting up a flat performance against the Panthers in week 2. Everybody in New England remembers the last time the Pats hosted Saints and the culmination of the evening with Big Papi sending Torii Hunter head over heels into the Sox bullpen and the birth of a local hero- Bull Pen Cop Steve Horgan.

With the Sox hot before falling flat against the Yanks last night, maybe the Pats can start some magic Sunday afternoon before another absolute night capper by our Boston counterparts.

In a twist, the Pats are facing opponents on back-to-back weeks coming off games against the Panthers (the Panthers played the Jets week 1 and the Saints week 2). While the Panthers operate a different offensive and defensive system than the Patriots, the consistency in film will allow the Patriots to see what works and doesn’t work and incorporate similar philosophies into their game plan.

The Saints faced adversity before the season even started, having to move their football operations to Arlington, Texas in the wake of Hurricane Ida. The move and subsequent neutral site home opener seemed to have no ill effects on the Saints team as they blew the doors off the “visiting” Packers 38-3. Famous Jameis had 5 touchdowns on 14 completions and the Saints never looked back. All-World Runningback Alvin Kamara had 83 yards on the ground and added another 8 and a touchdown receiving. The Saints defense got involved as well, sacking Rodgers twice and picking him off twice.
The Saints weren’t done facing adversity as during week 2, seven coaches missed practice time and three were unavailable during the game. Still practicing in Arlington, the Saints traveled to Carolina for a divisional matchup. All the goodwill bought in week 1 was quickly lost as they lost 26-7. Quarterback Jameis Winston showed he’s not done bringing his team on a rollercoaster experience as he threw 2 interceptions and was sacked 4 times. In classic Winston fashion, after being sharp in one week, he made some absolute head-scratching decisions the week following.

Kamara was largely bottled up against the Panthers, rushing for 5 yards and adding another 25 receiving. Whatever the Panthers were doing against Kamara, the Patriots will hope to replicate Sunday. The return of OLB Kyle Van Noy will be an added boost to a front seven that was susceptible to the run game last week. Despite being listed on the injury report all week OLB Matt Judon will be good to go Sunday. The Patriots could be without do-it-all safety Adrian Phillips as he missed the final two practices of the week due to a personal matter. Phillips’ status bears watching Sunday morning. OLB Josh Uche is listed as questionable with a back injury, his absence would lead to a loss of pep in pass-rushing situations as he leads the team in sacks with 3.

There has been much opining about the Patriots’ offense and lack of red zone success and explosive plays in the passing game. A week after seeing just how quickly a rookie QB can torpedo your team’s chances of winning, the New England fan base took to the radio waves and social media in force to complain about the conservative approach the offense has been taking in the passing game. The offensive game plan, while boring for fantasy football and Madden savants, follows the old Belichick (and quote from Art of War) adage that “You can’t win until you keep from losing.” While it’s not splashy and sexy, it is effective. The team was undone by its turnovers in week 1 and despite a 19-point victory in week 2, fans are clamoring for more risks in the passing game. The return of RT Trent Brown should give Mac more time in the pocket on Sunday but expect him to continue to be safe with the ball, especially when throwing in the direction of Pro-Bowl Cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

The Patriots again should be paced by their rushing attack. After being listed all week on the injury report with a finger injury, Damien Harris was removed Friday and will be a full-go for the game. The Pats will look to continue running the ball and set up play-action for their downfield shots in the passing game.

This Saints team reminds me a lot of the 2018 Tennessee Titans; a team that is absolutely talented but struggled to put it together week to week. Those teams are hard to play against as they are a different flavor of football team every Sunday. The week 1 opener showed us a talented team capable of paying incredible complimentary football, while week 2 showed us a team that seemed rudderless against a familiar opponent. Regardless of what version of the Saints shows up on Sunday, the game will be won or lost on third down. The Saints are a mere 7-21 on third down in the season while allowing a similar conversion rate defensively (9-25)> Forcing the Saints to consistently convert on third down will go a long way in deciding the Patriots’ success while avoiding those situations offensively themselves. Bottling up Kamara on the early downs and forcing Jameis to win the game would be the prudent defensive game plan. Offensively, avoiding DE Cam Jordan and staying the course will be successful. While everyone wants the big passing play, avoiding the turnover and staying on schedule is more important for the team at this juncture of the season.

Prediction

These are the hardest games to decide as the Saints have been such a mixed bag of results in a young season. Sean Payton is a great coach who should never be underestimated in his ability to prepare a team after a showing such as the Saints had last week. Old friend Chris Hogan and his Saints team keep it close in the first half before a couple Jameis turnovers turn the tide in the second. Patriots win 26-16 as their red-zone woes lead to multiple Nick Folk field goals continue for another week.

Ravens Report: Preseason Week 1 Roster Preview

Welcome to the Baltimore Ravens Week 1 Roster/Depth Chart Preview. Come join the conversation & give your opinions.

Ladies & Gentlemen, you’ve seen this author & title across multiple websites, but it’s now here at the hottest up and coming sports news network. We’re all excited to be here for you all the fans, no need for introductions cause that was done on Twitter. With that being said let’s get down to business.

Starting out understanding the opponent. As most of us know already that they’re playing the New Orleans Saints at M&T Bank Stadium. I know this is usually one of my favorite preseason games to watch, whenever they play. Seeing the Saints go through a change at QB with an ongoing position battle & now some WR controversy. It’s definitely going to be something to watch. Game time is at 7pm EST.

While they have everything they got going on, the Ravens have some QB battles of their own. Yes, that’s right, QB2 battle. Tyler Huntley & Trace McSorley.

Both of these guys are great with what they do, Trace brings his own kind of cool balance of pocket passer & scrambler. Seeing them bring in Mr. McSorley was pretty awesome thinking back to it. At first when it happened I thought to myself “Why are they drafting another QB when they have LJ8 & RG3?” Well then remembered they duo need the depth for camps & after further research this guy was the real deal & has proven to be a solid back up since.

Mr. Tyler Huntley, the man who beat the one, the only, the Lamar Jackson back on the High school gridiron. Well technically it was the defense that he beat but that’s a whole other discussion for a later date. This guy as we all have seen in flashes of, is more a true copy cat of LJ8 vs any other mobile QB we’ve seen. This backup QB battle is easily the best in the league. It’s a sight to see to say the least. P.S. a main reason why I’m going into depth with this is because I don’t expect to see our beloved starter much suited up to play.

Let’s move onto one of my favorite pieces of the puzzle in this depth chart release. The Offensive & Defensive Lines! Starting out with the starting OL we have:

  • LT: Ronnie Stanley
  • LG: Ben Powers
  • C: Bradley Bozeman
  • RG: Kevin Zeitler
  • RT: Alejandro Villanueva

The only true shock but not shock to this is at LG. The Ravens’ Public Relations Dept put this depth chart together and as my understanding they put some of the more veteran/guys who have been with the organization longer first. I still feel like that spot is up for grabs with any of the other guys throughout the entire preseason. Whether it’d be Bredeson, Phillips, Cleveland, Mekari, or Powers. Any of them can take it and perform well.

As far as the center position goes, Bozeman was a killer at the spot in college & there is no doubt in my mind that he’ll succeed in it. but as far as who will be his backups. I cannot emphasize this enough. Keep Mekari healthy & ready to go but also have T.C.C. ready to go as well. Mr. Colon is the only dedicated center on this roster as far as we know of.

With the defensive line/rush LB, we have starting out a massive & monstrous unit coming after the backfield:

  • DT: Calais Campbell
  • NT: Brandon Williams
  • DE: Derek Wolfe
  • Rush: Pernell McPhee
  • SAM: Tyus Bowser

This set is a solid go to, and you can’t argue it. All these guys are dominant veterans who have the knowledge & skill sets to get the job done.

But the talk of the town has been that Rush position and who is gonna be the quality guy(s) to take over.

Well let’s look at who is in the running for starting & rotations shall we? *Note: this also includes our depth SAM LB*

  • Justin Houston
  • Jaylon Ferguson
  • Chris Smith
  • Odafeh Oweh
  • Aaron Adeoye
  • Darlin Hayes

All of these guys are key impact/rotational players in one way or another & we’ll get to see a lot of our draft picks in action in this game coming up especially Oweh & Hayes.

Next up is another huge position group that’s been talked out in the offseason: the wondrous WR.

According to a lot of the fan base on both Facebook & Twitter, the team’s WRs weren’t getting the job done or missing the X-Factor in the position. Well Ravens Flock, you all got your wish in Rashod Bateman & Sammy Watkins. Picking up Batman.. I mean Bateman in the draft was a mean steal. The guy has size, route running abilities, speed, and everything you want in a young receiver to compliment what the team already has. Expect to see alot of playing time against the Saints so he can get used to things.

As far as Sammy goes, we may see him in the first quarter only because he’s a NFL vet. Yes, even though it’s his first year with the team & a way for a fresh start to get more his stats under the belt over making room for Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill.

Both of these guys will be an immediate compliment to Hollywood Brown.

These two guys are great additions but my eyes will be on these four guys: Miles Boykin, James Proche, Devin Duvernay, & Tylan Wallace. All young & hungry wideouts looking to make themselves household names. It’s going to be a straight up brawl for the final spots with these gentlemen.

Now with everything being said, there are plenty of other position, rotation & backup battles going on. Everyone above listed in depth aren’t the only ones we’re going to be watching & evaluating. In the secondary we have names such as Nigel Warrior, Shaun Wade, Brandon Stephens(Who has officially been moved from college CB to NFL Safety), Geno Stone, & Ar’Darius Washington.

At FB/TE(Since the team has been doing dual roles with both or flip flopping them), we have a heated battle for TE 3 & 4/FB2. Josh Oliver, Ben Mason(my current favorite), Eric Tomlinson, Eli Wolf, etc.

So much fun & excitement going on right now in preseason that this preview of the team. Be prepared & have your jerseys, hats, tumblers, etc ready.

Wrapping this up, just want to say thank you to everyone who has made it to the end of this article & read ever bit of it. Means more than any of you all could imagine. Don’t forget to check out everything Around The Block, here on the website or on your favorite social media platform. Till next week have a great day!

Dolphins All Over the World

Despite what can only be described as a trying past two decades for the Miami Dolphins, the expansion of the NFL overseas has resulted in the fan base growing astronomically. While the Dolphins may not be one of the most supported teams in terms of numbers in the US, internationally they have generated a substantial fan base, all full of die hard Dolphins fans who can not get enough of the aqua and orange.

Despite what can only be described as a trying past two decades for the Miami Dolphins, the expansion of the NFL overseas has resulted in the fan base growing astronomically. While the Dolphins may not be one of the most supported teams in terms of numbers in the US, internationally they have generated a substantial fan base, all full of die hard Dolphins fans who can not get enough of the aqua and orange.

With the introduction of the new 17 game regular season beginning in 2021, NFL owners have also approved a new format for the International Series games. Starting in 2022, atleast four games will be played internationally. The new system will see four of the 16 new AFC-NFC extra gameweek matchups moved to to overseas venues. The new approach will ensure that the NFL’s objectives of tapping into markets outside of the US are fulfilled, while ensuring that teams and fans do not lose home games as a result.

Unfortunately, there is a very small part of the US fan base for the Dolphins and the NFL in general, who sit there on their high horse looking down at international fans. Fans of which maybe haven’t supported the team since the 70s, are new to the sport, or those who have not been to games at Hard Rock and are therefore unworthy of the true Dolfan status and are presumed to not know what they are talking about. As an international fan myself, I take deep offense to such assumptions. It may therefore be a surprise to some, as to how passionate and committed us fans are. Let us not forget the Super Bowl kicks of at 11:30pm, the first pick in the Draft is not until 1 am in the UK, while even later in continental Europe.

United Kingdom

The UK has been the pinnacle of the NFL’s efforts to expand overseas. Since the beginning of the International Series in 2007, the NFL has achieved consistent growth, and now has more than 13 million fans in the UK. The game has expanded from showing around 10 minutes of highlights per week in the early 80s, to now having is own dedicated channel on Sky Sports showing around the clock coverage of the league. A total of 31 of the 32 teams have featured in London over 28 games, played across three different stadiums, hosting 2,226,356 total fans for an average attendance of 80,941 (all sell out games). In comparison, the average attendance of a game hosted in the US is only 67,042.

In the UK, the fan base has changed drastically. In the early 80s, many thanks to Dan Marino, the Dolphins were able to begin to establish a solid fan base, along with Washington, Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers. Fans are reminded of these days regularly as the vintage fashion trends that sweep the nation, see the return on 90s Starter jackets, spellouts and the customary vintage jerseys. The Dolphins remain in the top 3 or 4 most supported clubs in the UK which is constantly growing following the rise in popularity of the sport, and the fact that the Dolphins have been a consistent presence in the International Series games.

The Dolphins first came to London in 1988 in American Bowl pre-season game against the 49ers, featuring Marino, Montana, and Young in front of a capacity crowd of 70,000 in the old Wembley stadium. The fins emerged victorious 27-21. The Dolphins returned in 2007 for the first regular season game to played outside the US. Miami lost 13-10 to start the season 0-8, the rest of the season we will not mention. However, all can be forgiven as the Giants later went on to end the Patriots hopes at the perfect season in Super Bowl XLII.

It would then be seven years before the Dolphins would return to London in 2014, where they defeated the Oakland Raiders 38-14, a game of which I was unable to get tickets. Rather it seems that the powers above wished for me to endure a 27-14 loss against the Jets in 2015, whereby Ryan Fitzpatrick proceeded to torch the Dolphins secondary on one of the first plays of the game. Unfortunately for me that game was the highlight of my experiences of watching the Dolphins in London, as what followed was a 20-0 shutout against the Saints in 2017, a game that solidified my true feelings towards Jay Cutler. It is hoped that the Dolphins fare better in London this season in the week 6 matchup against Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Before the International Series games, in good British fashion fans meet up in the pubs and bars surrounding Wembley for charity meet ups organised by Fins Nation UK Fan Club, where over 400 fans descend from across the world. The UK fan club organise annual weekends where fans travel across the pond to attend a pre-arranged game, along with huge organised parties throughout the weekend with other fan clubs. On their last trip in 2019, 35 fans made the trip to South Beach making them the second biggest fan club behind only the Mexicans. Despite living 4500 miles away from Miami, many fans feel closer to the Dolphins than any other team or sport. The community of Dolphins fans across the world is something you just dont get from other sports in the UK.

Fins Nation UK Fan Club Boasts over 1700 members

Charity is a major focus of the UK fan club and since 2017 they have raised an outstanding £30,000 for various charities. Most recently the two founding members walked 160 miles in 6 days (equivalent to a marathon a day) from Somerset to Brighton for their fan club weekend.

“The greatest thing about the Miami Dolphins is NOT the team, it’s the FANS of the Dolphins community. It is without doubt the best in the NFL. In the 4 short years since Fins Nation UK was created I have made many friends for life, not only in the UK or USA, but worldwide. We have affiliate fan clubs in Germany, France, Italy and Mexico. Although I have met many of the Dolphins players past and present, give me a tailgate with the fans at East 12 outside Hard Rock Stadium anytime!”

Wayne Collard- Founder of Fins Nation UK

Germany

Just like the UK, Germany also hosted an American Bowl game in 1992 in a 31-27 win against the Denver Broncos in Berlin, featuring both Marino and Elway. Since then, football in Germany has been constantly growing. NFL metrics classify 3.5 million Germans as “avid fans”, with a total fan base of 19-20 million, rivaling that of the UK. Weekly television viewership has grown by more than 20% annually since 2017.

Like in many other European countries, soccer is still by far the biggest of sports, meaning that football fans remain in the minority. The German fan base for the Dolphins ranks top 5 in number of fans, with the Seahawks and Packers battling it out for the top spot. Following their success over the past 20 years, the Patriots have also grown in numbers, as many fans sought to jump on the bandwagon. However, the Patriots fans lack a centralized organization of hardcore fans like the Dolphins and other top teams have within Germany. Miami Dolfans Germany are a very active Facebook community including Fans from Austria and Switzerland, reaching almost 2000 fans and the active community group exceeds 1100 members.

More than 250 German Dolphins fans attend the London games, as since the American Bowl days, there have been no more games outside of London other than in Mexico. That may soon change, with the possibility of games in Germany becoming ever more likely. As it stands there are currently three locations in mind including, Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, with expectation that Germany will be able to host an annual game as soon as 2022. It is speculated that the NFL is hoping to exploit the tourism generated from Oktoberfest, the famous annual beer festival, for which Germany is renowned. I for one, as I am sure many Brits would happily make the trip across the continent.

“We think that football is family, especially with Dolfans, no matter where they live”

Marcus Merten- Founder of Miami Dolfans Germany

France

In comparison with the UK and Germany, the NFL has evolved much slower in France. There is not a huge football community in the nation as a whole, as it seems there are quite stark cultural differences between the two countries. However, French Dolphins fans are numerous and active through social media and are popular within the general NFL fan community within the country. The Miami Dolphins French Fan Club is relatively new and ambitious fan club. Despite facing difficulties in language barriers, they are still well motivated and keen to express themselves when they make the trip to London for the games.

At this time it seems that there is not a comparable level of following in France to warrant the expansion of the International Series, nor is there the appropriate infrastructure to be able to host such an event. Nevertheless, French Dolphins fans remain hopeful that things will continue to grow, to enable their fortunes to change in the future.

Mexico

The Dolphins have featured once in Mexico in 1997 in front of over 104,000 fans, which at the time was the third highest attendance at a game in NFL history. In an American Bowl matchup against the Denver Broncos, the Dolphins emerged victorious 38-19. Winning however did come at a cost with Zach Thomas sustaining injury to his left fibula causing him to miss the start of the season. The Dolphins are a top 7 team in terms of fans in Mexico with the Raiders being the most popular, along with the Cowboys, 49ers and the Patriots.

Since 2016, the NFL has scheduled a regular season game to increase the overall popularity of the sport. Mexico currently boasts the largest NFL fan base outside of the US and has become Mexico’s second most popular sport. Following the introduction of NFL Sunday Ticket, the game has continued to grow over the last 15 years.

Much to the dismay of the Mexican fans, their games over the past 3 seasons have all been cancelled as a result of poor field conditions and of course the coronavirus pandemic. However, looking towards opportunities for the future, it appears that as a consumer market, Mexico does not appear to be as valuable to the NFL as what the UK is. This may help to explain why the expansion of the International Series has been predominantly focused on giving more games in Europe, rather than to increase the number of games held in Mexico.

Conclusion

While the criticism of the International Series is understandable from a fans perspective, with the prospect of potentially losing the chance to see their team at Hard Rock, the new changes brought in by the NFL benefit everybody. When the Dolphins travel to London week 6 @ Jacksonville (technically), the roar of the European fans (including myself) will infact create a tenth home game for Miami, giving them a huge advantage over their rivals. The Miami Dolphins are now an internationally recognized brand, a premier brand, with a loyal and passionate fan base across the globe. Here is to hoping that fans across the world will be celebrating a successful 2021 campaign together. Fins Up!

Follow Bradley Davies on Twitter:

SimBull is the stock market for sports where you can buy and sell virtual shares of your favorite teams using real money. Each time your team wins, you earn a win payout. If your team loses, you lose nothing. SimBull offers trading for the NFL, NBA, and MLB, with College Football coming this fall. You can even own your very own share for the Miami Dolphins!

Visit simbull.com today and use promo code “AroundtheBlock” to earn a $10 deposit bonus on youfirst deposit.