The 2013 Miami Dolphins schedule is about as odd and unique as any in team history.
The season opens with a game at the Cleveland Browns that Keith Sims called a must win on my show, and over the three weeks that follow, the defense will be tested. Dolphins will travel to play the Indianapolis Colts, then home to the Atlanta Falcons and then road again for a tilt vs. the New Orleans Saints. Week 5 has them home to the Baltimore Ravens, then a Week 6 bye caps off a very interesting start to the schedule. I am sure you noticed the oddity of no AFC East opponent yet.
Week 7 is a home game vs. AFCE rival, Buffalo Bills. This is the first time in franchise history that the team will play their first inter-division game so late in the schedule. By the time the ‘Phins kick off the all important inter-division aspect of their schedule the other three AFCE teams will have already played each other…twice. Heck, the New England Patriots open their season at Buffalo, then home to the New York Jets.
Improved play in the division will clearly be a major must for the 2013 Dolphins. Over the last decade this franchise is just 24-36 in the division. 2003 saw the team go 4-2 vs. the AFCE, and there was a nice run in 2008 and 2009 as they combined to go 8-4, but take those out and we see 30 losses in the other 42 games. Clearly unacceptable. If this squad is going to meet increasingly loftier expectations, they will have to turn things around vs. division foes.
Another odd thing about the schedule is the team will end the season with games vs. all three division opponents. Week 15 will be at home to the Pats, Week 16 at Buffalo and then Miami will close the season at home to the Jets. Dolfans will not see the hated Jets until December in another twist of the schedule. Week 13 (December 1) at New York will be the first battle between these two in 2013, and it will be the 19th anniversary of 1994 (Week 13) when the infamous Clock Play game took place.
If you are a ‘Phins Phan you hope that the back-loaded division schedule will mean that even a slow start to the season can be turned around by getting hot at the right time. Plus, of course, the best case scenario could happen which is a quick start that sets up the team with a chance to deliver knock out punches within the AFCE, which would set them up for a rare playoff appearance. The season was already going to be uber interesting because of the improved roster, and the schedule intricacies add to the intrigue.