Miami Dolphins: Predicting the Games of 2013 NFL Schedule With Analysis
Miami Dolphins: Predicting the Games of the 2013 NFL Schedule With Analysis
With the unprecedented level of access granted by modern technology, the NFL is no longer interesting just between the months of August and February. Now, there are events all year long that capture the attention of fans and sports writers everywhere. The latest of which happened on Thursday night (April 18, 2013), with the release of the 2013 NFL Schedule.
It seems simple enough; after all, the opponents of each team had been released months ago. This event simply sets the time, and dates, that those match-ups will take place. The excitement comes from the anticipation of these dates. Just knowing which teams a fan favorite will be playing is nice, but knowing when it is happening makes it real.
Now everyone knows when each game will be taking place. Fans are marking calendars, players are circling dates, and writers are covering the angles. It makes for an exciting moment during a long offseason.
This offseason feels even longer than usual for those who follow the Miami Dolphins. After so many years of disappointing play, the Dolphins have made enough progress in their rebuilding process to have the fan base abuzz with excitement.
Their season opens up on the road and boast three prime time games, two Monday Night match-ups, and one Thursday Night game that will be broadcast on the NFL Network. In 2012, the Dolphins had just one game in prime time, a Thursday Night game against the Buffalo Bills. This increase in exposure testifies to the fact that even the scheduling committee and networks believe Miami will be putting a competitive team on the field this year.
The NFL Draft is just under a week away. These team’s will change drastically from what they look like today, and the ones that will take the field on September 8th, but let’s take a look at the schedule and have some fun making some way-to-early predictions. Just click on the “Next” tab to get started.
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Week 1, September 8th: 0-0 At Cleveland Browns 1:00 PM ET
This game matches up two sophomore quarterbacks in the first meeting of their young careers. The Cleveland Browns have made several major upgrades in an effort to rise to the top of their division, but the Dolphins may have done just a bit more.
Ryan Tannehill can be argued to be the better of the two quarterbacks, and while the Browns have the edge in the rushing game with Trent Richardson. Miami’s free agency additions at wide out give them the upper hand at the position, and the defenses both look to be strengths for both teams.
The better quarterback play coupled with more dangerous weapon gives the Dolphins the edge in this game and they start the season with a win on the road. Final Score: 24-13
Week 2, September 15th: 1-0 At Indianapolis Colts 1:00 PM ET
This is a rematch of last season’s Week 9 aerial explosion. The Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck through the ball all over the Dolphins secondary, racking up a rookie record setting 422 yards. Tannehill had done his part as well, nearly racking up 300 yards of his own, and his Dolphins either led, or were tied with the Colts for nearly the entire game. The Colts scored a late field goal that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Dolphins defense will be much improved from the one that took the field last season, and the chances are the two quarterbacks will not repeat their 712-combined yard performance. Regardless of the upgrade, the Colts will not be easy for any defense. Luck has shown why he was the number one over-all pick in last year’s draft, and they have now added Darrius Heyward-bey to their stable of impressive receivers.
This game could really go either way, but the Dolphins control of the 2012 match-up, along with a more reliable defense, gives the Tannehill the chance to even up his heads-up battle with Luck and he takes advantage. Dolphins go 2-0 for only the second time in the last 10 years. Final Score: 23-17
Week 3, September 22nd: 2-0 Home Vs. Atlanta Falcons 4:05 PM ET
Going up against Luck in the second road game in a row will have been tough; coming home to face the Atlanta Falcons will be extremely difficult for a young Dolphins team.
Atlanta had the best record in the NFC last season, equaled only by the Denver Broncos throughout the entire NFL. They finally won their first playoff game of the Matt Ryan era, but fell just short of the Super Bowl when they lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. They have already added a bruising, albeit an aging, running back in Stephen Jackson, and their passing attack is among the best in the league.
This will be a huge test for the rebuilt Dolphins, but they will have the support of their home stadium, something that has been lacking over the last several years. With the crowd behind them, the defense pressures and picks off Ryan several times, and the offense takes advantage of a mediocre Falcons’ defense. Dolphins win their third straight to open the season in an emotional home opener. Final Score: 16-27
Week 4, September 30th: 3-0 At New Orleans Saints 8:40 PM ET
The New Orleans Saints are tough to beat in their own house, regardless of the opponent. The Dolphins will be heading into a loud, hostile environment unlike anything they will have seen this season. Drew Brees will be in his fourth game after having been reunited with his head coach Sean Peyton, who served a year suspension last season. The two should be getting back into the swing of thins, and will be very hard to beat. With all of the problems the Saints faced last season, Brees was nearly able to lead his team back from a 0-4 start.
This will be the third road trip in the first four games, and while the secondary is likely to be greatly improved, there is still a chance that there will be one, possibly even two, starting rookies protecting the field against Brees. With the noise and atmosphere of the Mercedes Benz Superdome, and the pinpoint accuracy of Drew Brees passes, the Dolphins find themselves in a shootout they are just not able to keep up with. Saints win in a high scoring and highly entertaining Monday Night Football game. Final Score: 27-38
Week 5, October 6th: 3-1 Home Vs. Baltimore Ravens 1:00 OM ET
The reigning Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens come into South Florida for just the second home game of the Dolphins’ season. The team that takes the field for Baltimore is a very different one from the team that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy back in February. New players on the Ravens’ defense are tasked with replacing a couple of NFL Legends, but guys like Elvis Dumervil and Michael Huff will do their best to bring the Ravens into the next phase of their existence.
One story line of this game will be Danelle Ellerbe facing his former team. Ellerbe appeared to be the chosen replacement for Ray Lewis in the middle of that Ravens defense, but the Dolphins shocked the NFL world when they announced a deal with Ellerbe within the first hour of the free agency period. It was a move that caught nearly everyone by surprise, and both sides will want to show the other what they are missing.
This game will come down to the two defenses and after getting torched by Brees the week before, the Dolphins bounce back and frustrate Joe Flacco while limiting Ray Rice to under 60 yards. The Dolphins pull off their second surprise victory at Sun Life Stadium, dominating the Ravens in front of their home crowd. Final Score: 10-24
Week 6 Miami Dolphions Bye Week
Starting the season 4-1 may seem unlikely, but it is definitely possible. This is the NFL and things never seem to work out the way they are supposed to. The two home games, first against the Falcons, and then against the Ravens, could very easily go against them, but if the Dolphins get off to a good start they could be very dangerous and just as tough.
The addition of Mike Wallace to the offense opens up the field and with three other highly capable receivers lining up all over the field, defenses are going to have a tough time dealing with them. Add to that the pass catching skills of Dustin Keller at tight end and the elusiveness of Lamar Miller coming out of the backfield, and this offense could be tough to slow down.
The defense was among the best in the league last season, mostly due to the play of their front seven and the safeties. Having added to those areas and completely revamping their cornerback talent, the defense has the chance to be among the top three units in the league.
It may be hard to believe the Dolphins could be this good to start the season, but this is a team unlike any team the Dolphins have fielded in a very long time.
Week 7, October 20th: 4-1 Home Vs. Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM ET
This is the first of the Dolphins’ divisional games, and coming off of a bye week, they will be prepared for the Buffalo Bills. The two teams split their season series in 2012, and while the Dolphins have continued to add strong pieces to their roster, the Bills have begun restructuring theirs. They have a new head coach and quarterback combo, and are trying to rebuild on the fly
After trading Ryan Fitzpatrick for Kevin Kolb, the Bills appear to have taken a step backwards in an attempt to move forward. Last season, with the Arizona Cardinals, Kolb took a beating from the Dolphins, but pulled off a come from behind, overtime victory. In Buffalo, Kolb will have a pair of running backs to help ease the load, but the Dolphins will be too strong in this one, continuing the win-at-home trend that has been going on between these two teams. Final Score: 13-35.
Week 8, October 27th: 5-1 At New England Patriots 1:00 PM ET
The first of two meetings between the Dolphins and the New England Patriots, this game will hold special importance to Miami. New England has dominated the AFC East for more than a decade at this point and the Dolphins know that the road to the playoff goes through New England. Miami can play for a Wild Card spot, but the one sure way to get into the playoffs is by winning your Division. New England stands firmly in the way of anyone in the AFC East trying to make such a move.
There has been talk about the Patriots being ion the decline, and that quarterback Tom Brady is no longer the elite passer we have seen in years past. This is coming off a season where they came up just short, much like the Falcons, and lost to the Ravens in the AFC Championship game. If this is a decline for the team that has been to five Super Bowls in the last 12 years, than I would hate to hear what they say if the Pats were to lost in the Wild Card, or Divisional Rounds.
The improvements the Dolphins have made will be great, and the addition of two younger, more athletic, linebackers was likely brought on by the need to slow down the tight ends of the Patriots. Both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski have been reported to be dealing with injuries, but the balanced attack of Brady, Danny Amendola, and the emerging stable of running backs led by Stevan Ridley will prove to be too much for the Dolphins to handle. They lose for the second time this season. Final Score: 17-31
Week 9, October 31st: 5-2 Home Vs. Cincinnati Bengals 8:25 PM ET
Another rematch from last season, the Dolphins play host on a Thursday night, to the Cincinnati Bengals, in a battle of playoff hopefuls. The Bengals have made it to the NFL’s second season for the last two seasons in a row, both times as a Wild Card entrant. With the New England Patriots controlling the AFC East, the Wild Card becomes the Dolphins’ contingency plan for a chance at the playoffs, making this game with with playoff implications
As seems to be a theme this season, this game features two top ten defenses that will have their work cut out for them trying to slow down two very dangerous offenses. Cincinnati boasts one of the most productive passer/wide receiver tandems in Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Both are entering their third season and are fighting to take over control of the AFC North.
One of the strengths for the Dolphins in this match-up will be the play of their quarterback. Tannehill was the best in the league last season in production against the blitz, and with the increase in talent at the wide receiver position, he will have the edge over Dalton when nit comes to picking the defenses apart. Dolphins win a close one. Final Score: 20-23
Week 10, November 11th: 6-2 At Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8:40 PM ET
The second prime time game in a row, the Dolphins visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a battle over South Florida. The Buccaneers are a deceiving team. Their record may not reflect their talent at this point in the season, but they have playmakers at several major positions, and can hurt you from all over the field.
One of Tampa Bay’s biggest strengths falls in line with one of the Dolphins’ weaknesses. Gerald McCoy is one of the best defensive tackles in the league today. He leads a defensive front seven that led the league last year in yards against the run. With the questions that surround the Dolphins’ offensive line this offseason, it is only fair to assume that they will be outmatched against the Buccaneers. Being able to crash the pocket with their four down linemen gives them the luxury of dropping the rest of their defense back in coverage, a defensive look Tannehill struggled against last season. This gives Tampa Bay the upper hand in this match-up, and they pull off a surprise win against the Dolphins on Monday Night. Final Score: 9-16
Week 11, November 17th: 6-3 Home Vs. San Diego Chargers 1:00 PM ET
The only game against the AFC West this season, the Dolphins have the advantage of staying home, while the San Diego Chargers have to travel across the country to play an early game. This may not have an influence on the outcome of the game, but the odds are immediately stacked in the Dolphins favor thanks to the schedule.
The Chargers are difficult to predict against, but even with a new head coach and offensive philosophy, many of the players are still the same. The secondary will be tasked with keeping Denario Alexander in check, and if the front seven can get to Phillip Rivers, he will likely resort to old habits and begin to press. Whenever Rivers plays beyond what the defense is offering, he becomes an interception machine, and the Dolphins’ secondary will take full advantage. The home crowd is pleased after the Monday Night let down. Final Score: 13-23
Week 12, November 24th: 7-3 Home Vs. Carolina Panthers 1:00 PM ET
The Carolina Panthers have been a thrill to watch over the last two seasons, but their record has done little to reflect the high-powered offense led by their stud quarterback, Cam Newton. The addition of Dominic Hixon to the receiving corps gives Newton another reliable target and the rushing attack of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams create problems for any opposing defense.
The strength of the Panthers lies in Newton’s ability to make plays in, or out, of the pocket. Because of Newton’s size and speed he is a threat in the run game, and his arm strength allows him to test the secondary deep whenever he gets a chance. This forces the defense to be honest against the Panthers, and because of the multiple threats, the defensive unit gets thinned out. This is the season the Panthers offense learns how to take advantage of this and in a battle of up-and-comers, the Panthers pull out a win at Sun Life. Final Score: 32-24
Week 13, December 1st: 7-4 At New York Jets 1:00 PM ET
This is the first time this season the Dolphins face division rival New York Jets. The two teams split the season series in 2012, each winning on the others home field. Tannehill will be looking to stay on the field this time around, after having gotten knocked out early in the game last season. Back-up quarterback Matt Moore came in and the Dolphins proceeded to thump the Jets in front of the Fireman Ed and the rest of the Jets’ faithful fans.
The Jets suffered from key injuries last season, but their problems go much deeper than that. After firing their general manager in the off-season, Woody Johnson opted to keep Rex Ryan as his head coach, but the ice is extremely thin for New York’s biggest character. The problem is, the Jets have been on the decline, while Miami has taken major steps to improve their on-field talent. The math simply does not work out in the Jets’ favor. Dolphins demolish the Jets for the second year in a row. Final Score: 45-13
Week 14, December 8th: 8-4 At Pittsburgh Steelers 1:00 PM ET
On the road for the second week in a row, the Dolphins playoff chances could easily be impacted by this game. With the Bengals, Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers fighting for the AFC North title, the other two are the Dolphins’ prime competition for the two AFC Wild Card spots. Depending on how the playoff hunt looks, a win here could mean getting in for one of these teams and out for the other.
Going back to Tannehill’s ability to beat the blitz, an extremely motivated Mike Wallace will make it tough on his former teammates. The Steelers’ defense is not quite the unit it used to be, and while they continue to be of top ten quality, matching up against the Dolphins’ receivers will prove difficult. The Steelers die by the blitz in this game, and the Phins take two in a row for the first time since Week 7. Final score: 24-17
Week 15, December 15th: 9-4 Home Vs. New England Patriots 1:00 PM ET
The second game between these two teams comes at a time when a win, or a loss, can mean the difference between a division title, a Wild Card spot, or a 17 week season. The Dolphins come into this game with the confidence of a two game winning streak, two on the road at that. They also are on their home field, with a crowd excited over the best winning record their team has had at this point in the season in what seems like a lifetime.
Unfortunately, the Patriots are still among the NFL Elite, and just because the Dolphins have some momentum going in their favor, it does not mean they have what it takes to knock off Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Dolphins are playing much better than they were the last time the two met, and their athletic linebacker do their best against Hernandez and Gronkowski, but the Patriots remind everyone why they are the perennial AFC East champs. Despite a valiant effort, the Dolphins lose. Final Score: 27-25
Week 16, December 22nd: 9-5 At Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM ET
The second divisional match-up in a row, the Dolphins need to win the ones they are supposed to and the Bills are officially among the teams that the Dolphins should beat. With just one more game left to the 2013 regular season, the Bills have given up on Kevin Kolb, and are already looking towards next year. The Dolphins are still fighting to secure a playoff spot.
The Dolphins lost both games against the Patriots, but save a little pride by winning both against the Bills. This one they win with ease. Final Score: 10-42
Week 17, December 22nd: 10-5 Home VS. New York Jets 1:00 PM ET
Finishing off the regular season is yet another game against a division rival, and for the Dolphins, the stakes are as high as ever. The Dolphins sit with 10 wins, which may not be good enough to secure a Playoff spot. The Dolphins will need to play this game as though their season depends on it, which may actually be the case.
The Jets have an opportunity to play spoilers, just what the Dolphins did to them in the last game of the 2011 season. This gives both teams a reason to play the game for all its worth. This could turn out to be a game worth watching for fans of the NFL, not just of these two teams.
Then again, it could end up the same as their meeting in Week 13. Dolphins win this one and earn a spot in the playoffs for just the second time in the last ten years. Final Score: 13-34 Regular Season Record: 11-5
This is as far as this slide show goes. Hopefully you made it through it and see some possibility in the scenario suggested here. This entire prediction is based on the belief that the Dolphins will gel together and play up to their potential. If we look at the moves they have made during this offseason, they have added so much potential. This has all been based off of the premise that all of the new talent pays off and Miami has a magical season.
Unfortunately, they were not able to get past the Patriots this season, but as they are on the rise, New England may be on the way down. It is completely believable, but 2013 is not the season Brady and Belichick hand over the keys to the Division.
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