Dolphins season prediction: 8-8

The Miami Dolphins have talent in a lot of areas. This was a competitive team that consistently played hard last year, and that was good enough for seven victories.

Now, the bar is raised higher after Miami spent more than $200 million in free-agent contracts and brought in a new draft class, led by No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan. The Dolphins haven’t made the playoffs since 2008, and that trend continues for at least one more year.

I predict Miami will finish 8-8 this season. The Dolphins will be better. But a brutal schedule -- particularly early in the season -- will make it tough for Miami to gather enough momentum to get over the hump.

Miami’s first five games are at Cleveland, at Indianapolis, versus Atlanta, at New Orleans and versus Baltimore. It could be an uphill climb if the Dolphins start the year 1-4 or 2-3.

What worries me most about Miami is its lack of depth in certain areas. One significant injury to a cornerback, linebacker or offensive lineman would be tough to overcome. And rest assured, injuries will happen.

The Dolphins are a team on the rise. But it may take another year -- and an easier schedule -- to put it all together.

Predicted finish in AFC East: second