For Miami Dolphins fans taking a look at the 2012 schedule is a must. At this point the Dan Marino era is waaay behind us, and the Dolphins have a measly one AFC East title in the past 11 years. Heck, even that one title required a historic turn-around season for the ‘Phins.
Miami’s overall strength of schedule is in the low 20′s (1 being the hardest), but there are certain concerns for the 2012 Dolphins too.
For example, all three AFC East foes New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets have an easier strength of schedule. Oddly enough powerhouse teams Patriots, and Green Bay Packers have the easiest strength of schedule. In addition to a tough division, the Dolphins will play a total of six teams that had 9+ wins in 2011.
An annual issue has been the play at home. We would have to go all the way back to early 2000′s Dave Wannstedt era to see the last time the Dolphins had a winning record at home. Since a 5-3 home record in 2003 the Dolphins have been poor. The ‘Phins phaithful have watched the team go 27-37 at home since then. Just 9-15 the past three seasons. The attendance, or lack there of, has reflected the growing frustration of the fans. The home opener is vs an Oakland Raiders squad that was outstanding on the road in 2011. Playoff contenders Tennessee Titans, and Seattle Seahawks also make the trip to Sun Life Stadium (plus, of course, AFC East teams)
There is potential good news. Last season the St Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars were each a putrid 1-7 on the road, and Miami hosts both. The Dolphins also won home games vs the Bills and vs the Jets last season. Pats will be a handful both home, and away (as per usual).
Miami opens their 2012 road schedule at Houston Texans (5-3 at home in 2011) at Arizona Cardinals (very good 6-2 at home in 2011) and at Cincinnati Bengals (4-4, but a 9 win team in 2011). All three division road games will be played after their Week 7 BYE. Also in there is a trip to the struggling/rebuilding Indianapolis Colts (1-7 at home in 2011) and a long trip to play a very good San Francisco 49ers team (SF 7-1 at home in 2011)
It has been years since the Dolphins began the season on a good run. Again we have to go back to Wannstedt era to see the last time Miami got off to a winning start. A mid-season record of 5-3 in 2003 is the last time Miami was even above .500 heading into the second half. For years teams get prepared for a second half playoff run/grind, while the Dolphins prepare their scouts to turn their attention to the draft. Since ’03 only twice has Miami even limped to a 4-4 start. Two 1-7 starts, and even an 0-8. In total the record in the first half of the past 8 seasons is a putrid 18-46. That is an average start of 2-6. Yikes. Jets have expectations. Bills feel improved. Patriots are annually awesome. These slow starts are burying the `Phins before the season even heats up.
There are a ton of Thursday night games on the 2012 NFL schedule. Miami has one in Week 11 when they go to Buffalo. That is the only prime-time exposure the 2012 Miami Dolphins will get. In the past 8 seasons Miami averages 6-10 record, and is on their 4th regime in that span. Not exactly a team in national demand, but Joe Philbin and his staff are aimed at changing that.
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