A closer look at the Dolphins 2012 schedule

The Miami Dolphins now know the gauntlet that lies before them.  Prior to yesterday, they knew what teams stood in their way of the playoffs.  Now they know the dates, times, and order that those games will be played in.  Seems somewhat boring, huh?  Well, the NFL Network and ESPN both televised ‘Schedule Release’ shows and Twitter blew up right around 7pm last night.  Everyone had an opinion on their favorite NFL team’s schedule and of course, the Dolphins schedule.

I saw predictions for the Dolphins ranging anywhere from 3 wins to 11 wins.  Like every other fan, I looked at the schedule and tried to figure out what record the Dolphins might finish with.  The problem with doing this, of course, is that the Dolphins roster isn’t set.  And neither are the rosters for the other 31 NFL teams.  The draft hasn’t happened yet (rookies)….The second half of free agency hasn’t happened yet (veteran cuts)…Training camp and the preseason haven’t happened yet (injuries).  Think about it- Last season, many people saw the Colts schedule and penciled them in as AFC South Champions.  Then we learned that Peyton Manning wouldn’t play and they ended up with the worst record in all the NFL.  Having said all that, it’s still fun to analyze the schedule and look at how things might turn out, right now.  Here’s a look at the Dolphins schedule:

9/9 @ Houston 1:00 pm

9/16 vs. Oakland 4:15 pm

9/23 vs. NY Jets 1:00 pm

9/30 @ Arizona 4:05 pm

10/7 @ Cincinnati 1:00 pm

10/14 vs. St. Louis 1:00pm

10/21 Bye Week

10/28 @ NY Jets 1:00 pm

11/4 @ Indianapolis 1:00 pm

11/11 vs. Tennessee 1:00 pm

11/15 @ Buffalo 8:20 pm (Thurs)

11/25 vs. Seattle 1:00 pm

12/2 vs. New England 1:00pm

12/9 @ San Francisco 4:05 pm

12/16 vs. Jacksonville 1:00 pm

12/23 vs. Buffalo 1:00 pm

12/30 @ New England 1:00 pm

When looking at the schedule, the Dolphins will play 7 of their 8 home games at 1pm.  This is good because it could help the Dolphins regain the home field advantage they haven’t had in recent years.  Last year, Stephen Ross asked the NFL to have as many Dolphins home games at 4pm instead of 1pm to make the heat more bearable for fans.  Like it or not, that took away some of the home field advantage the Dolphins have.  When teams from up north come down to Miami, they aren’t usually accustomed to playing in the heat and humidity.  This year, they’ll have to deal with it.

It’s a bit odd that the Dolphins play the Jets twice before they play anyone else in the AFC East.  They play the Jets twice before Halloween and then play 4 of their last 7 against the Bills/Patriots.  As of today, the first half of the Dolphins schedule appears ‘easier’ than the second half.  The Dolphins start off on the road against Houston, which they’ve never beaten.  BUT, 6 of the next 7 games are against teams that did not make the playoffs last year and includes 2 teams (Indy/St. Louis) that finished 2-14.

The second half of the schedule is tougher. The Dolphins play the improved Bills twice, the Patriots twice, travel to San Francisco, and take on the sure-to-be-improved Seahawks and Titans.  Five of the Dolphins games in 2012 will be against teams that made the playoffs in 2011.  The Dolphins will also play only 1 primetime game this season, when they travel to Buffalo in early November to take on the Bills on Thursday Night Football.  This is the first time since 2008 that the Dolphins will not play a game on Monday Night Football.  However, IF the Dolphins’ games late in the season are meaningful, they could be flexed into primetime on Sunday Night Football…But we’ll have to wait on that.

A lot of their success will depend on how the Dolphins make out in the draft.  They will look for a pass rusher, an offensive guard or tackle, a quarterback to develop, and probably a receiver or two.  I’m probably putting too much faith in the front office and Joe Philbin, but on April 18th my prediction is for the Dolphins to go 9-7.  To get to 9 wins I have the Dolphins finishing 2-4 in the AFC East and also winning against the Raiders, Jaguars, Titans, Rams, Colts, Cardinals, and Seahawks.  What do you think?  Please leave a comment with your thoughts on how the Dolphins are going to finish, based on what we know today.  Thanks!

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