The Miami Dolphins will open their season with a very favorable schedule, going up against the Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and then the New York Jets before their bye week. It is very possible that the team can start off the season with a record of 4-0. Of course, a lot can change between now and then so in no way am I predicting that this will happen. But as of now, that is something that can looks like it can be achieved. They will need all the wins they can get because their schedule gets tough towards the end of the season with games against the New York Giants, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots.
The Dolphins will have two prime time games - the first on Thursday night against the Patriots and the second on Monday night against the Giants. However, if the Dolphins are in the playoff hunt, there is plenty of opportunity for a flex game towards the end of the season. Week by week, here is my quick hit analysis of the Dolphins 2015 schedule.
Week 1: Miami at Washington
This is a good matchup for the Dolphins as they may be facing a rookie quarterback. If they aren’t, they will likely be facing off against Robert Griffin III, who is still trying to find his way in the NFL and in the new offensive system under head coach Jay Gruden. Considering the opponents for the Dolphins, this is one of the best options to open the season.
Week 2: Miami at Jacksonville
Miami heads on the road for the second straight week but they will be playing a Jaguars team still trying to find their way in the NFL. This is another gift for the Dolphins and they need to take it and run with it. The Dolphins handled the Jaguars pretty easily the past few times they played them and this season should be no different.
Week 3: Miami vs. Buffalo
This is always an interesting match-up and even more-so this year because we don’t know what kind of team the Bills will have. One thing for sure is that they won’t have a quarterback to throw the football. With Ndamukong Suh in the fold along with other stars on the defensive line it’s going to be hard for the Bills to run the football. If the Dolphins can in fact shut down their run game, it will make things a lot easier for them.
Week 4: Miami vs. New York Jets
The Jets are traveling across the pond with a rookie head coach. Meanwhile, the Dolphins just went through the entire process last season. That already is an advantage. Add the fact that the players in New York will still likely be getting used to the new systems in place and it all adds up for the Dolphins.
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: Miami at Tennessee
The Titans will likely have a rookie quarterback starting for them. If not, it’s going to be Zach Mettenberger or perhaps Phillip Rivers. The Dolphins have Rivers’ number the past few seasons and even though it would be in a new environment, it shouldn’t be much different. Can the Dolphins start the season with a 5-0 record? It’s quite possible. Again, a lot can happen between now and then so don't count your chickens before they hatch.
Week 7: Miami vs. Houston
The Dolphins have never beaten the Texans in the regular season. The last time these two teams played, JJ Watt made Ryan Tannehill look below average. The Texans will be much improved by this time of the year and this is going to be a tough matchup. Can the Dolphins use their home field to their advantage or will they be once again beaten by a team that they haven't been able to put away?
Week 8: Miami at New England
A game between two division rivals on a Thursday night. How can you possibly get excited about this? It’s no secret that everyone is beat up after playing on Sunday and this is going to make matters worse. Sure, they are playing in New England when it’s not too cold but to have a quick turnaround plus a road game in an environment where the Dolphins haven’t been too successful in the past few years doesn’t make me very happy. This will be a tough one to win so the Dolphins will need to play near perfect, assuming there are no injuries on either side.
Week 9: Miami at Buffalo
The Dolphins will have a few extra days to rest but that might be negated by the fact that they have to travel back up to Buffalo because they will be getting in late and leaving a day or two early. The Dolphins do catch a small break as it won’t be too cold in the beginning of November. The Bills have had the Dolphins number at home the past few seasons. Hopefully, Miami can reverse that this season.
Week 10: Miami at Philadelphia
No one knows what the Eagles will look like in the middle of November so it’s hard to talk about this game. They may have a rookie quarterback, it could be Sam Bradford or it could even be Tim Tebow! This will be one of those games that can go either way and we really won’t know until we get closer to this date.
Week 11: Miami vs. Dallas
This is going to be a great game because I will likely be making the trip down to Miami for this one! The Cowboys will be a tough team and this game is going to be a battle. Home field should give the Dolphins an advantage but Cowboys fans travel well so that may negate that. This will certainly be a fun one to watch and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Week 12: Miami at New York Jets
The Dolphins travel to MetLife Stadium at the end of November so it’s likely to be cold. However, the Dolphins do pretty well up in New York. If the Jets can’t fix their quarterback situation in this draft, they are likely to struggle this year. Thus, this should be the second win for the Dolphins against the Jets, making it a season sweep.
Week 13: Miami vs. Baltimore
Is this the year that the Dolphins finally beat the Ravens? This is one team that the Dolphins can’t seem to beat no matter how hard they try. Miami has some new pieces in the fold and will be adding more next week during the NFL Draft. I can’t say I have a ton of confidence in Miami this game considering that the Ravens have dominated them the past few seasons but anything can happen. We’ll see if the Dolphins can get over the hump in 2015.
Week 14: Miami vs. New York Giants
It’s Monday Night Football in Miami! The Giants have a superstar receiving corps so the Dolphins will need to hope that their cornerbacks are healthy enough to keep up with Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz. If they can control the Giants’ passing game, they can make them one dimensional and then dominate against their run game.
Week 15: Miami at San Diego
The Dolphins will travel to the West Coast to take on the Chargers, a team they have handled pretty well the past few seasons. Like Philadelphia, we don’t know what kind of team they’ll have come December. Will they still have Phillip Rivers as their quarterback or will it be a rookie? We’ll have to see how this one shakes out before analyzing it further.
Week 16: Miami vs. Indianapolis
Andrew Luck is coming to Miami and the Dolphins defense will look to make his life miserable. With Ryan Tannehill emerging as one of the league’s better quarterbacks, I can see this becoming a rivalry over the next several years. This is a game that has potential to be flexed to prime time and is going to be a battle. It will be a fun one to watch and hopefully Miami can take care of business and get a win on their home turf.
Week 17: Miami vs. New England
What a team to face to close the season! Like the game against the Colts, this game has the potential to be flexed to prime time if the division or a playoff spot is on the line. This could be a game where the Dolphins take away the division crown from the Patriots if the season comes down to Week 17. New England doesn’t do well in Miami so this might be exactly what the Dolphins need to get over the hump in 2015 and perhaps, a spot in the playoffs.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
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