The Miami Dolphins have the toughest home schedule of any AFC East team in 2013, but their road schedule looks like much better/easier (article on Miami home schedule compared to other AFC East foes is HERE). Of course the ‘Phins will make their annual trips to play at the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, and New York Jets, plus they will also visit the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The season opener is at Cleveland, and Keith Sims said on my show last week (Ranting With Ben and Craig…8-9pm EDT Sat night on blogtalkradio.com) that was a must win game. Tough to consider week 1 a must win, but I understand where Sims is coming from because if the ‘Phins are going to have their first winning season in a long time and be able to challenge the Pats in the division, then they surely have to establish that they are better than the Browns and build from there.
The combined 2012 records for Miami’s five non-division road games was 38-42, and 23-17 at home. The Dolphins will only take on one 2012 playoff team on the road (again, talking about opponents outside of the division).
The Bills have a really good looking road schedule which could be a concern for Dolfans, but I am hardly concerned with that organization as they continue to be putrid. Their 2013 non-division road opponents combined for a brutal 29-51 record, and at home just 16-24 (it is worth noting that much of this comes from the 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars who were just 1-7 at home last season). This season’s Bills game at Rogers Centre in Toronto is against the Atlanta Falcons, so that is similar to a road game and it is against an outstanding team. The Falcons are the only playoff team from 2012 that the Bills will face away from Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets will play at Atlanta, at the Carolina Panthers, at the Cincinnati Bengals, at the Tennessee Titans, and at the defending champ Baltimore Ravens. Those teams combined for a 46-34 2012 record including 24-16 at home (three of them were playoff teams last season). The Jets are also a team that hardly concerns me. The Dolphins are not world beaters, but they should certainly be better than the Bills and Jets in 2013.
The team to fear annually in this division is the Pats, and (thankfully for ‘Phins phans) they have a tough road schedule in 2013. The Pats are at Baltimore, at Cincy, at Carolina, at Atlanta, and at the Houston Texans. That is a list with four playoff teams and an impressive combined record of 52-28 (including 26-14 at home). Under Tom Brady, the Pats are a sure-fire 6-2 home team annually (minimum…often gaudy like 7-1 or 8-0 at Gillette Stadium) so it is good to see a tough road schedule for the Brady Bunch. The Pats play four 2012 playoff teams on the road in 2013.
Ryan Tannehill was horrid on the road as a rookie. I still wake up in a sweat because of his brutal performances at Houston, at Buffalo, and at the San Francisco 49ers (amongst others). Tanny tossed a measly four road touchdowns last season (no NFL starting QB was worse) and doubled that with eight interceptions. He was sacked a whopping 23 times on the road, and his QB rating away from home was just 70.7 so we see a TON of work for the second year QB to do in order to earn improvements in his play.
Time will tell, but this 2013 Dolphins road schedule looks like it has a four wins in there with a chance for five. A 4-4 road record should have the ‘Phins in the conversation for a wild-card, and 5-3 would surely have them in the mix for their first playoff appearance since 2008.