Has the schedule settled into your brain yet? Have you drawn a red circle around your game of choice? Broken down the highs and lows yet? Let’s see if we can help you out with a closer look at the 2014 Miami Dolphins schedule.
Week One: New England Patriots
The Patriots will open their season in Miami for the second time in three years. The last game was in 2011 and saw the Patriots win 38-28. The Patriot own the opening schedule head to head four wins to three. For the Dolphins, who started out 4-0 last season, a win against the Patriots will go a long way to instilling confidence in both the locker room and in the fan base.
The largest single benefit is obviously home field advantage where the Patriots will face a sweltering 1:00 p.m game where torrential rain could ground a passing attack. It is after all the middle of hurricane season. Who knows, maybe the weather will force a venue change and Miami and New England swap locations. It has happened before.
Kidding and joking aside, the Dolphins will face their toughest opponent right out of the gate and for better or worse, it will be a tough game for the Phins but one they should and need to win if they believe they can make the playoffs.
Week Two: @ Buffalo Bills
Last season the Dolphins were swept by the Bills and both losses had huge ramifications on the teams challenge for a playoff spot and the division. Miami will face the Bills early but will knock out a cold weather game in September forcing the Bills to play in Miami later in the season. The Bills are still struggling to find a clear starting QB but that didn’t hurt them last season. The Dolphins facing two division foes to kick off the season is huge as losses puts them in not only a two game hole but also two losses within the division.
Week Three: Kansas City Chiefs
The Dolphins will face their second playoff team in three weeks but have the opportunity to face both at home. The kick-off is slated for 4:25 but make no mistake the heat index will be high. Last year the Chiefs took their unbeaten streak deep into the year and they will look to do the same this year as HC Andy Reid continues his reshaping.
The game will also be the first between the Dolphins and former players Anthony Fasano and Sean Smith while new LT Branden Albert will face his former team as well.
Week four: Oakland Raiders
The Dolphins will technically play at Oakland but the game is in London. The Dolphins have an obvious travel advantage as they will have a shorter flight difference than the Raiders. On paper it’s a game that you would expect Miami to win and a lot of what they do after week three will be predicated on their confidence level.
Week Five: Bye Week
Week six: Green Bay Packers
The Dolphins would have liked to have had a bye week later in the season but they have known for awhile that it would be week five due to the London trip. They will return home from England and have a full week to prep for the Green Bay Packers. Joe Philbin knows the team well. The Packers haven’t changed much since Philbin left and some might argue that they haven’t has as much success either. The game will be a tough one for the Dolphins but a win will be needed as they will then travel for two consecutive weeks.
Week Seven: @ Chicago Bears
The Bears put up strong numbers last year despite losing starting QB Jay Cutler for part of the year. Brandon Marshall is still the go to target for Cutler. The players that were involved in Marshall’s departure are now all gone. Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano. The game is the first of back to back road games.
Week Eight: @ Jacksonville
Luckily for the Dolphins their second consecutive road trip keeps them in Florida with a quick trip to Jacksonville. The Jaguars have a lot of problems on both sides of the ball but they came out of free agency much better than most assumed they would. The key will be the new philosophy in Jacksonville with a new head coach. It’s still a game the Dolphins should win.
Week Nine: San Diego Chargers
This is a game that I have penciled in to be at. The Chargers snuck into the playoffs last year because the Dolphins couldn’t close the door. It’s very possible that Miami will need this game to break late season ties for playoff chances and make no mistake this game will have some impact on where both teams are slotted when playoff talk begins to warm-up. The long flight from San Diego should also work in Miami’s favor.
Week Ten: @ Detroit Lions
At least Miami isn’t playing Detroit on Thanksgiving weekend. The Lions are tough at home and the combination of Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson is deadly. Miami will also face former RB Reggie Bush who will likely remember the teams desire to not keep him after the 2012 season. Road games are tough but this could be especially hard if the Dolphins don’t fix their line and CB holes.
Week Eleven: Buffalo Bills
The Bills return to Miami for a Thursday night primetime game. Miami has two of these games this season. This couldn’t have come at a better time for the Dolphins. While they face the short week from Detroit on Sunday to the Bills on Monday, it gives them 11 days to prep for the Broncos in week twelve.
Week Twelve: @ Denver Broncos
The Dolphins will face their toughest on paper foe of the 2014 season in week 12 and as mentioned will have eleven days to prep for it. It’s the first meeting between the two clubs since Miami’s failed attempt to lure Peyton Manning to Miami. The Broncos are expected to make another run for the Super Bowl and will be a litmus test for the Dolphins who should be fighting for a playoff spot.
Week Thirteen: @ New York Jets
A trip to Denver will be followed by another cold or very chilly weather game in New York where this years Metlife Takeover will take place. Last year Miami fans took up an entire two upper level sections of the stadium. While DolfansNYC do not expect as many faithful fans this year they are expecting a large turnout. All four of the AFC East teams believe they can make the playoffs and this year seems as though a battle with each team will decide that entirely. It makes this game very important for the Dolphins…and the Jets.
Week Fourteen: Baltimore Ravens
The Dolphins should have won last years game and this year they should win again. The loss last season was the second in a four game slid. Facing the Ravens late this season will have important playoff implications.
Week Fifteen: @ New England
The rematch comes with three weeks left in the season and New England can be bitter cold in mid-December. If the Dolphins want to win the division, they have to beat the Patriots in New England.
Week Sixteen: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings were an up and down team last year, a Jekyll and Hyde team if you will. They can go either way. The Viking will play in the open air this year as they await a new stadium so a trip from the chilly North to South Florida could likely have an affect on them. For all the Vikings problems they still have arguably the best RB in the NFL in Adrianne Peterson.
Week Seventeen: The New York Jets
The Jets face the Dolphins in 2013 to end the season. They met in Miami and the Jets knocked the Dolphins out of the playoffs. It’s very likely that the loser of this game could be the team that sits at home and watches yet again.
This is actually a good schedule for the Dolphins. They have two back to back road games. The first of which however sees the 2nd of that trip staying in Florida while the 2nd starts after eleven days between games. The Dolphins only have one two game home stand and that is in week 16 and 17.
The Dolphins only have two primetime games. One agains the Bills on Thursday night and one agains the Jets on December 1st in New York.
The Dolphins will face four teams looking at a push for the AFC Playoffs in the first nine weeks of the season. While they face three NFC opponents in that same period who will vie for a PO spot, losses won’t hurt their conference record.
The Dolphins will face six AFC playoff contenders in the final seven weeks of the season with the lone out of conference game against the Vikings. The second half of the season will have huge playoff implications for the Dolphins.
Of the Dolphins eight home games, one is scheduled as a night game in primetime, the Bills, while all but one are scheduled for 1:00 p.m. kick-0ffs. Only the game against Kansas City is a 4:25 p.m. start. The Dolphins need to embrace their midday heat index once again and use it as their 12th man.
The Dolphins will not wrap the season with consecutive division games instead they finish with the Bills the first week of November. They will face the Jets and Patriots two week apart at the end of the year.
There are nine weeks between Bills games, fourteen weeks between Patriot games, and four weeks between Jets games.