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Miami Dolphins NFL Schedule Preview and Predictions 2017

Dolphins NFL schedule Mike Dunn via Flickr


Dolphins NFL Schedule Preview

As OTAs begin to wind down, the preseason and regular season begin to creep up on us. After training camp, the preseason suddenly begins. Before you know it, it’s Week 10 of the NFL regular season. The Miami Dolphins NFL schedule is daunting this season, which was not the case in 2016. The Dolphins had a successful 10-6 campaign, earning a playoff berth for the first time since 2008.

A six-game winning streak, three 200-yard rushing games, and making the playoffs sounds spectacular. That’s exactly what Miami did last season. However, they also had the easiest ranked schedule in the NFL. Often against sub-par rushing defenses, resulting in skewed numbers. 2017 looks to be a whole different monster, and Miami might need some magic this season in order to match expectations.

Must Win Games

Every single game in the NFL is a must win game. That is something that nobody can really refute, with the season being only 16 games. On the contrary, division and conference games usually hold more weight. Losing to a team with no chance to make the playoffs can be more crippling than losing to a playoff contender at times. However, a loss is a loss no matter the opponent. Basically the entire AFC West and AFC North will be competing for two wild card games. Miami draws a few of these teams and needs to win in order to hold a tiebreaker, and winning creates a two-game swing.

Starting Off Strong

Regardless of how much better Miami may be in 2017, the schedule is going to be a problem. Ten wins are realistic, but so are seven wins, and finishing 5th in the Wild Card race. The offense looks to be clicking so far in OTAs even though we’ve seen a limited amount of contact. According to PhinPhinatic, the defense is going to be a step better, with more depth.

The Dolphins NFL schedule opens at home against the Tampa Bay Bucs, a team that will be deadly on offense this season. Miami needs to take their home opener and try to create some momentum going into their long road trip, and overall tough season.

Tough First Half

They travel to the Chargers, Jets, and play New Orleans in London. That is a lot of mileage in three weeks and may take a toll on the team. Miami needs to definitely win two out of three here. The Jets are a dumpster fire, and the Dolphins seem to be Phillip Rivers’ kryptonite. The next six games are split; three home, three away. These games probably decide Miami’s season. The Phins can realistically go 1-5 or 5-1 with a stroke of luck in these games. The Titans, Jets, and Raiders all visit the Hard Rock, none of which are in consecutive weeks. Traveling to Atlanta, Baltimore, and Carolina will show just how tough this squad is. Miami really needs to win four games here. The Raiders and Falcons will be loaded, and I don’t see them winning either of those contests.

Crunch Time

A Wild Card is the Dolphins’ goal, and their divisional rivals will look to destroy that goal. After a bye week, the Phins travel to New England and get a lackluster Denver offense at home. Unfortunately, Tom Brady and company then fly down to Miami for Monday Night Football. Splitting the Patriots games is crucial, and beating Denver could be the edge for a Wild Card spot. Finally, traveling to Buffalo then Kansas City in consecutive weeks, followed by the finale at home vs Buffalo. Kansas City is also probably an AFC Wild Card contender, so winning all three of these games would likely secure a Wild Card, but Andy Reid is hard to beat at home. I think Miami only wins one of those two AFC West matchups.

Bottom Line

That puts Miami at 10 or 11 wins, depending on how the ball bounces. They could very well end up dropping games they should dominate, which is a common theme in past seasons. I believe 7-9 is their floor, this offense is going to score a lot of points. Low ceiling of 11-5, and that is a modest reach. Those three or four AFC games will swing this 2017 season one way or another. Bottom line, the Dolphins NFL schedule this season is going to take some luck.

Tom Brady could be out all season and the Patriots still probably take the AFC East crown again. Whoever wins the AFC West, the two runner-ups will most likely be competing for those fifth and sixth seeds in the playoffs. The Ravens, Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, and Patriots are all AFC contenders on the schedule. Not to mention the Falcons and Buccaneers, two tough crossover games. If the Dolphins want to even sniff the playoffs, they need to bring their absolute best week in and week out in 2017.