By: Brandon Liguori
One prime-time contest, three December home games, a late bye week and a trip to Las Vegas, too. PhinManiacs’ Brandon Liguori gives an in-depth, game-by-game analysis on the Miami Dolphins’ 2020 regular-season schedule.
Week 1- September 13 (at New England; 1 p.m.): Brian Flores’ second season under the helm will begin in the same building where his first season ended: Gillette Stadium. Spoiling New England’s chances at earning a first-round bye, the Dolphins knocked off the Patriots in Foxborough for the first time since the famous “Wildcat Game” in 2008. With Tom Brady taking his talents to Tampa Bay after a 20-year run in New England, Jarrett Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round selection, is likely Bill Belichick’s guy for the future, pending any veteran quarterback signings.
Week 2- September 20 (Buffalo; 1 p.m.): The Buffalo Bills will be an interesting team to watch in 2020. Quarterback Josh Allen is entering his third season and the Bills added Stefon Diggs in the free agency period, giving the Bills a speedy weapon at the wideout position. Buffalo swept the season series in 2019.
Week 3- September 24 (at Jacksonville; 8:20 p.m.): Miami’s lone primetime contest in 2020 will not be that far away from Hard Rock Stadium. Battling Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars, many experts believe the Jaguars’ eyes are set on 2021, with the potential of drafting Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence as the team’s hope-to-be franchise-changing quarterback.
Week 4- October 4 (Seattle; 1 p.m.): Russell Wilson is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league, so it is safe to say the Dolphins will have their hands full vs. Pete Carroll’s squad. Miami last faced Russell Wilson in Adam Gase’s rookie season as head coach (2016).
Week 5- October 11 (at San Francisco; 4:05 p.m.): The Dolphins will make their first visit to Levi’s Stadium against Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers. Coming off a disappointing 31-20 loss to Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54 this past February, the 49ers’ ferocious defensive unit will be key to watch in this football game, led by Javon Kinlaw, a first-round pick this past April and Fort Lauderdale native Nick Bosa, a first-round draft choice in 2019.
Week 6- October 18 (at Denver; 4:05 p.m.): Releasing veteran quarterback Joe Flacco this past March now gives second-year man Drew Lock the keys to Denver’s offense. GM John Elway drafted smart this past April, providing Lock with two electrifying wide receivers: Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Penn State’s KJ Hamler.
Week 7- October 25 (LA Chargers; 1 p.m.): Chargers HC Anthony Lynn has Tyrod Taylor penciled in as the Week 1 starter in Cincinnati. The ultimate question will be as to when rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who was taken a pick later after Miami grabbed Tua Tagovailoa, will take an important snap under center.
Week 8- November 1 (LA Rams; 1 p.m.): The Dolphins, in a span of seven days, will welcome both Los Angeles teams to Hard Rock Stadium. Miami does not have to worry about Todd Gurley, as the former Georgia running back was dealt to the Atlanta Falcons. Former Florida State Seminole running back Cam Akers, however, should be in the starting lineup.
Week 9- November 8 (at Cardinals; 4:25 p.m.): Speed and athleticism are two great words to describe Miami’s Week 9 opponent. The Dolphins will get their first taste of Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, which includes quarterback Kyler Murray, the first overall selection in 2019 and newly-acquired wideout DeAndre Hopkins.
Week 10- November 15 (New York Jets; 4:05 p.m.): A late-afternoon divisional game in November at home? I am sure Brian Flores’ squad will take that. Former Dolphins HC Adam Gase returns to Hard Rock Stadium and here is an interesting statistic: Flores’ first victory as head coach came vs. the Jets in Week 9 this past season.
Week 11- BYE
Week 12- November 29 (at New York Jets; 1 p.m.): It was a pretty interesting finish last year when Miami traveled to MetLife Stadium. A controversial, defensive pass interference call on Nik Needham set up a game-winning 44-yard field goal from Jets kicker Sam Ficken as time expired. Adam Gase is 1-1 against his former team.
Week 13- December 6 (Cincinnati; 1 p.m.): A quarterback match between Joe Burrow, the first overall selection this past April and Tua Tagovailoa, Miami’s first selection in the 2020 draft, is possible but how quickly will the Dolphins rush Tagovailoa on the field in 2020? Also, how many of you remember Cincinnati’s incredible fourth-quarter comeback a season ago in Miami? Trailing, 35-12, then-Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton led a 23-0 scoring outburst to even the contest. The Dolphins secured victory in overtime, 38-35.
Week 14- December 13 (Kansas City; 1 p.m.): Patrick Mahomes will have goosebumps when stepping on the field at Hard Rock Stadium. Mahomes’ first Super Bowl championship in his short, four-year career came in Miami’s home building this past February. Andy Reid’s Chiefs are one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC and in football. Plug this date into your phones, Dolphins fans.
Week 15- December 20 (New England; 1 p.m.): Should I mention the 43-0 drubbing the Patriots handed Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins a season ago on home surface? Antonio Brown was a Patriot at the time and Brady was leading the offensive unit. Man, how times have changed.
Week 16- December 26-27 (at Las Vegas; TBD): Christmas Weekend in Las Vegas! Get used to this change, folks. The once-named Oakland Raiders have moved to Las Vegas and Jon Gruden’s squad added some speed and veteran presence during the draft and free agency period, welcoming Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III and grabbing former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.
Week 17- January 3 (at Buffalo; 1 p.m.): Miami will conclude the 2020-21 campaign and Brian Flores’ second season as head coach against Josh Allen’s Buffalo Bills. Since Miami’s dramatic 34-31 overtime victory on Christmas Eve 2016, the Dolphins have been winless at Orchard Park (0-3).
You can follow Brandon on Twitter @BrandonRLiguori