Dolphins Schedule: The importance of each game for Miami in 2024

It doesn't matter when these games are played, they are important no matter the time or date
Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens
Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Miami Dolphins will know their official schedule come May 15, but they already know who they'll be facing and how important each contest is going to be. In 2024, the Dolphins will be pushing for an AFC East title after losing it last season on the final weekend to the Bills. Their hopes of making a third consecutive postseason will rest on Tua Tagovailoa's shoulder and arm and a new defensive system from Anthony Weaver.

Naturally, winning games will get Miami to the postseason, and they have to turn around what went wrong in 2023 - losing to teams above .500. Miami can't expect to compete or have confidence if they fail to beat teams that are better than average. Last year, they were able to get by, but this year, that may not be the case. Winning against those teams is paramount to the team's success.

Win the AFC East

You can't start ranking games on the schedule without first pointing out the one glaring fact: the Dolphins will not make the playoffs or win the division if they can't beat their division rivals. The AFC East will account for six of Miami's 17 games, but they are the most important. The Dolphins need to at least split with the Jets and the Bills and sweep the Patriots. The better the divisional record, the better Miami's chance to win the division. We know Miami will play Buffalo Week 2 for Thursday Night Football, and that's a must-win game early on in the campaign.

Having said that, here is a look at the rest of the season's slate of games ranked in order of importance:

AFC South - Texans, Jaguars, Colts and Titans

The Dolphins will play the entire AFC South in 2024. This is important and tops our list of out-of-division games. Why? Miami has to consider these games to be "in-division" games during the 2024 season. Every AFC East team will face the AFC South, and if the East comes down to a tie between, say, the Jets, Bills, or Dolphins, and the division records as well as the head-to-head results are the same, common games are the next deciding factor. If the Dolphins can beat the AFC South, one loss by the Jets or Bills, maybe even the Patriots could decide the AFC East.

The Dolphins will host the Jaguars and the Titans, while traveling to Houston and Indianapolis. Ranking them individually: Jaguars, Titans, Colts, and Texans. I put the Texans last because they are the odds-on favorites to win the division. That would put the Jaguars as Miami's potential Wild Card competition. Beating the Titans and Colts improve Miami's record and those are two teams they should be able to beat in 2024.

Cleveland Browns

Again, there is tight competition in the AFC, and the Browns will play in one of the toughest divisions this year. The AFC North could have all four clubs competing for a Wild Card spot. If the Dolphins can knock them off, they could hurt the North tie-breakers and give themselves an advantage, not just head-to-head. Miami will play the Browns on the road.

Beat the teams you are supposed to beat

Miami will face the Seahawks, Raiders and Cardinals in '24. Three games they should be favored to win. Two of those, Arizona and Las Vegas, will be at home. These are three wins Miami should have this season. Miami fans know what happened last year when they lost to the Titans, a team they should have taken down. Miami can't make it harder on themselves in 2024 by losing to teams that are not as good as they are.

Out-of-conference games

Games against NFC teams are not typically as important as those against AFC squads, but they still count in the win/loss columns and are the difference between winning a division title and losing it by one game. Miami will face the Packers and Rams on the road and the 49ers at home. We covered the Seahawks and the Cardinals. Those games are more important because they are winnable for Miami. These games will be much harder.

Again, you can't discount last year's win, but beating good teams will go a long way to creating a winning mindset in Miami. The remaining out-of-conference games are against playoff teams, and the Dolphins need to send a message by beating them. They may not carry the weight of other games, but they are no less important if Miami wants to win the AFC East in 2024.