Dolphins 2021 schedule features a demanding start, but workable for playoff run
The first five opponents the Miami Dolphins face in 2021 will set a tone for the season.
It's tough sledding. But Miami expects to be tough. And good.
The Dolphins open their schedule at New England, home vs. Buffalo, at Las Vegas, home vs. Indianapolis and at Tampa Bay.
Miami's first five opponents were an astounding 50-30 last season.
The Bucs won a Super Bowl. The Bills won the AFC East. The Colts were playoff participants. The Patriots have loaded up their roster since last season ended.
But Miami has the fifth-weakest overall NFL schedule in 2021, as determined by opponent win percentage last year, and so it does get easier.
The rest of the way, Miami faces opponents with a cumulative 2020 mark of 78-114.
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Oddsmakers have projected Miami to win nine or 10 games, but 11 or 12 is the target. It's possible. And if the Dolphins come up short, the schedule should not be the reason.
Consider that the Dolphins catch a scheduling break in likely avoiding awful weather in trips to New England (September), Buffalo (October) and the Jets (November).
The Dolphins figure to avoid any and all blizzards.
Consider that Miami will play nine games at Hard Rock Stadium (The NFL will use a 17-game regular season for the first time) because a game in London will be considered a Jaguars home date.
That will be Tua vs. Trevor and Flo vs. Urban and it should be a jolly good time.
Will there be more Tagovailoa jerseys or Lawrence jerseys in the stands in England?
Will Flores' professional experience make Urban's offense look ill-prepared?
Miami faces the Jaguars on October 17, but there is not a bye on October 24. Instead, the Dolphins will host the Falcons that day.
A bye week won't come until Dec. 12, which is Week 14.
The Dolphins will open their season at New England for a second consecutive season, which is also intriguing. It seems likely the Dolphins will face Cam Newton, but there is always a chance rookie Mac Jones faces his former Alabama teammate.
Miami lost at the Patriots in the opener last year, but Tua did not start that game. Ryan Fitzpatrick did. And Kyle Van Noy played for the Dolphins then. But he's returned to New England, as both rosters feature plenty of players who've been on both sides.
Miami was rewarded with a Thursday night home game against the Ravens and Lamar Jackson of Boynton Beach High. Baltimore has had Miami's number on national television. But at least the game is at home.
And Miami will face the Saints in a road Monday night game on Dec. 27.
That's two nationally-televised games, at a minimum, along with an International contest — a step in the right direction for the franchise's perception.
The end of the Dolphins' season won't be easy. It's at Tennessee and former Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill. And then home for the Patriots to close things out.
There are some reasons for optimism.
The Dolphins have nine games at home and only three are against an opponent with a winning record last season — Buffalo, Indianapolis and Baltimore.
Miami also faces some of the worst quarterbacks as ranked by passer rating last season — Sam Darnold (35th), Carson Wentz (34th), Daniel Jones (30th) and Newton (28th). Jameis Winston was 26th in his last year as a full-time starter.
The only quarterbacks who finished in the Top 10 in the NFL in passer rating that Miami faces are: Josh Allen (4th), Tannehill (5th) and Tom Brady (9th). It is possible they could face Deshaun Watson (2nd).