The NFL released its annual season schedule a few days ago, and it was revealed the Miami Dolphins will enter the 2014 season at home against the New England Patriots. Along the way, the team will play two nationally-televised games against their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets, combined with matchups against the NFC North and AFC West. The team will close the regular season in Week 17 at home against the Jets.
The Dolphins’ 2014 season schedule is as follows:
Week 1 vs. Patriots
Week 2 at Bills
Week 3 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 4 at Oakland Raiders (in London)
Week 5 Bye Week
Week 6 vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 7 at Chicago Bears
Week 8 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 9 vs. San Diego Chargers
Week 10 at Detroit Lions
Week 11 vs. Bills (Nationally-Televised on Thursday on NFL Network)
Week 12 at Denver Broncos
Week 13 at Jets (Nationally-Televised on Monday on Monday Night Football)
Week 14 vs. Baltimore Ravens
Week 15 at Patriots
Week 16 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Week 17 vs. Jets
The Dolphins possess the 12th-toughest schedule in 2014, with six of their games being against teams that advanced to the postseason following the 2013 season, including the AFC Champions, the Broncos.
You hate to overestimate the release of any schedule before the season starts, especially in the NFL, because of the parity of the league. There is so much change and turnover in the NFL on a year-to-year basis that, it’s to tough to project an NFL team’s record in the upcoming season based upon the play and results of the previous season.
However, in taking a look at the Dolphins’ 2014 schedule, it’s tough to not see it as “favorable” for the franchise. The team will essentially play eight home and seven true away games. The Dolphins will play in London to face the Raiders. That is a neutral site, and if anything, it’s more of an advantage for the Dolphins considering the Raiders have to fly 926 more miles than the ‘Fins in order to travel to London.
Not to mention the team gets to close the season with two home contests against two less-than-stellar teams in the Vikings and Jets in Week 16 and Week 17.
The key to the Dolphins clinching a postseason berth will be their player against their divisional rivals. In 2013, the Dolphins were swept by the Bills, blew a double-digit lead in a loss to the Patriots, and lost in Week 17 to the Jets with a playoff berth on the line. Outside of the Dolphins’ mediocre play throughout the season, it’s safe to say their demise was largely at the hands of their AFC East counterparts.
From Weeks 11-17, the Dolphins will play their divisional rivals four times, with two games in front of a national television audience. If the franchise proves to finally be mentally tough enough to defeat their rivals in tough, grind-it-out games, then Miami will clinch their first postseason berth in six seasons.
If the Dolphins continue to falter in the biggest of games against the toughest of their opponents, the franchise will miss the postseason for the sixth consecutive season.