The Miami Dolphins schedule is out and has been for a week but we are still dissecting it ahead of the 2021 season which is still months away.
Predictions have been flying around the internet and our own Nick Belotto had one early last week. In the coming weeks, I will roll out my top predictive headlines for each week. I know some of you can’t wait!
Looking at the schedule it did occur to me that there are seven games that are, for all intent and purpose, must-wins for the Dolphins. Then they will need to seal four more games to reach 11 wins which is the total many believe it will take to make the post-season this year.
These seven must-win games are simple because the Dolphins should be favored to win each and every one of them.
I’m not going to make you click through a slideshow this time, you’re welcome, so let’s just get to it. These seven teams are teams that Miami should beat and be capable of beating and that is why they are must-wins.
The Jets: Miami plays them twice and rookie QB Zach Wilson should face a brutalizing Dolphins defense. Miami should be favored to win both meetings and the Dolphins should be able to beat them both times.
New England: Miami should be able to beat the Patriots twice but they really need to beat them at least once. Splitting with them doesn’t hurt but sweeping them makes it a lot easier.
New York Giants: The Dolphins should have beaten the Giants the last time they played and honestly, Miami has gotten a lot better since then and the Giants really haven’t done too much.
Carolina Panthers: I like the Panthers but Sam Darnold isn’t the answer, at least not this year. The Panthers have a few holes and Miami should be able to beat them.
Houston Texans: DeShaun Watson or no DeShaun Watson this team is in transition.
Jacksonville Jaguars: It would be an embarrassment to lose to the Jaguars. Trevor Lawerence is going to be good but not this year.
Stealing four more games will get the Dolphins to 11 wins but what teams remaining give Miami the best chance to achieve that?
Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta will travel to Miami. They have a hole at running back and may trade Julio Jones before camp. The addition of Kyle Pitts was good but their defense can be inconsistent.
Las Vegas Raiders: Jon Gruden has been on the job for a couple of years now and the Raiders still play to break their own hearts. Miami can take this game on the road and it will be tough but the Raiders are not unbeatable.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts have a new QB and a very good running back. The defense is good but let us remember one thing, the Colts needed Miami to lose in week 17 last year to get into the playoffs.
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Winning two of these three will take Miami from 7 wins to 9 wins and now they only two more. Miami will still have a shot but this is what the season should really come down to. If Miami can take all three, that window becomes one game.
Buffalo Bills: Getting swept takes the Dolphins out of a division chase but splitting this season could help Miami within the division or at the very least a Wild Card.
Tennessee Titans: Ryan Tannehill’s return to Hard Rock Stadium should be an all-out fight. Miami will need to stop Derrick Henry to force Tannehill to beat them. Defensively, the Titans are a good football team and Miami will need to be better.
Baltimore Ravens: The Dolphins haven’t played the Ravens well in years and this one is on Thursday Night Football. But it is in Miami.
New Orleans Saints: There is no Drew Brees and there isn’t much talent behind Michael Thomas in the receiver room. The Saints are in salary cap purgatory and may need to make big cuts in camp. This late-season MNF match-up could be there for the taking.
If everything above plays out, the Dolphins need to take one of these four games or steal the Tampa Bay game, after all, Miami owns Tom Brady when they play in Florida.