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PS4: Dolphins 34, at Atlanta 7: Wizard of Os shines, Fins provide some hope as rocky preseason ebbs; plus our 2018 NFL Team Rankings, Hurricanes and burden of expected greatness, your verdict on what team owns this town, Beckham and Uncle Elton & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's FRIDAY, AUGUST 31. Farewell, August. You were a trying month of turbulence but, ultimately, of renewed hope. 2) Football's back and that means it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): What team owns this town with poll, latest Back In My Day video, your verdict on No. 1 fantasy pick & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our annual NFL team rankings: Dolphins higher than you think: My annual NFL Team Rankings are out today, and who's No. 1 might surprise you. So might how low the Patriots are ranked, how high the Dolphins are and a bunch of other stuff, too. Check it out, 1 through 32: NFL 2018 Team Rankings. 

New column: Hurricanes face burden of expected greatness: Reality: No. 8-ranked UM has a chance for a 12-0 regular season when the games begin Sunday night vs. LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Also reality: That might not be good enough. The Canes are close to all the way back -- close enough to see the four-team College Football Playoff as a reasonable goal. But they still must find a way to close the gap on elite powerhouses like Alabama and ACC roadblock Clemson to be all the way back, meaning national-championship good. I explore in my latest column: Canes Could Go 12-0 and Still Have Mountain to Climb.

PS4: DOLPHINS 34, @ ATLANTA 7: WHY THIS ONE WAS A LITTLE BIT IMPORTANT: Miami tonight avoided what would have been only the fourth winless preseason in its history in a game of scrubs on both sides. Notably, Brock (Wizard of Os) Osweiler outplayed David Fales to (likely) secure the backup QB job. The result was largely meaningless, except that it allows the Fins lockerroom and Dolfans a bit of feelgood, a hint of momentum, as the regular season moves in ..... Original post: Fourth and final preseason games mostly are about helping a head coach settle the close calls on roster decisions. MiaatlStarters don't play much, and avoiding injuries is seen as more important than winning. But tonight's PS4 in Atlanta is a bit different for Miami (0-3 in exhibitions) and coach Adam Gase. The Dolphins in 52 seasons have finished a preseason 0-4 only three times (in 1966, 1989 and 2012), and in none of those years did Miami make the playoffs or have a winning record. Small sample size, but it’s pretty clear that if you haven’t found a way to win in August, chances are you won’t find a magic light switch once the real games begin. That, and last week’s dispiriting 27-10 home spanking by Baltimore, means Gase is looking for a positive preseason-closing performance that will give his team (and its fans) something to feel good about. A puff of tailwind as the Sept. 9 season opener vs. Tennessee chugs into view. "We just didn’t have a very good game last week," as Gase put it. "We have to make sure that we play better." The ongoing duel between pessimism and doubt about the Dolphins and reasons to believe is the subject of my new column: Dolphins Must Make Us Believe.

UPOLL RESULT: CANES FOOTBALL 'OWNS THIS TOWN': We ran a poll (you may still vote in preceding blogpost) to accompany this recent column: Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town. Because I wondered if you all agreed. The poll asked, "If you could choose only one, which team currently 'owns this town,' by however you define the term?" Your results: Hurricanes football 56.85 percent, Heat 20.55%, Dolphins 19.18% and "other" 3.42%. These things are cyclical. The same poll five years ago and the Heat likely would have dominated. But right now? It's all about The U!

BecksDAVID BECKHAM AND 'UNCLE ELTON': The face of the new Miami franchise that will begin play in Major League Soccer in 2020, David Beckham, is pictured this week on a yacht in the French Riviera alongside wife Victoria and Elton John, a fellow Brit whom Becks has known for years.  Life is good for the Beckham clan. Do not fret that he is overworking himself. This is the fourth vacation this summer for the Beckhams and their four children: Brooklyn, 19, Romeo, 15, Cruz, 13, and Harper, 7. The French Riviera follows family forays to Croatia, Bali and Montenegro. "Uncle Elton. We have known each other now for 25 years. Fun times with each other," Beckham wrote on his Instagram page.

Other select recent columns: Finally, a Chance to Say Thanks (Stanton's return). NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireGore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End RunDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy OneTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades (death of Tony Sparano). Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal OffseasonSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

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