The Miami Dolphins' 2021 regular season schedule is now official, though parts of it were leaked throughout the day Wednesday.
The schedule will begin and end with games against the New England Patriots, Sept. 12 at Gillette Stadium and Jan. 9 at Hard Rock Staium.
Here are things that stand out about the schedule:
-- As we discussed earlier Wednesday, the Dolphins will open the season the exact same way they did in 2020, but now we know their first two games will be the same because in Week 2 they'll play their home opener against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium. An exact replica of the first two weeks of the previous season is something that's never happened in team history.
-- The Dolphins' initial schedule calls for two prime-time games, a Thursday night home game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 11 and the leaked Monday night road game against the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 27. It's not a large number of prime-time games for a team that finished 10-6 a year ago and an indication that national expectations for the 2021 Dolphins are somewhat lukewarm.
-- That game against New Orleans will mark the fourth time in five weeks the Saints will play a night game, a rare occurrence and one made even stranger by the fact New Orleans doesn't have Drew Brees anymore and there's no guarantee the team will be as good as it has been in recent years.
-- As announced Wednesday morning, the Dolphins will face the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Oct. 24, but the twist here is that they won't have a bye the following week — as has been the tradition for teams playing a game in England. Instead, the Dolphins will have their bye Dec. 12 in Week 14. It's awfully late to have a bye; in fact, we can't remember the Dolphins ever having a bye in December.
-- The Dolphins again will have an either/or game this season, this time in Week 15 when they're scheduled to face the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium either Saturday, Dec. 18 or Sunday, Dec. 19. The Dolphins game at Las Vegas last year came after it was one of five games with an either/or designation for Week 16 and it was chosen to land the Saturday night prime-time spot. What happens with the Jets-Dolphins matchup will depend again on playoff races.
-- The schedule is favorable in possibly keeping the Dolphins away from cold-weather games because their only two road games past Nov. 21 are at New Orleans and at Tennessee. The Nov. 21 game is at MetLife Stadium against the Jets. The Dolphins will play at Buffalo on Oct. 31.
-- The Dolphins again have an awful lot of 1 p.m. kickoffs. In fact, the only time they're scheduled as a doubleheader game is in Week 1 with the game at New England.
-- The Dolphins will have a stretch of five home games in a six-game span sandwiched around their bye. Before that bye, the Dolphins will face Houston and Baltimore at home before the road game against the Jets, followed by home games against Carolina and the New York Giants.
-- The Dolphins will play two of their three preseason games on the road, with trips to Chicago and Cincinnati sandwiched around a home game against the Atlanta Falcons.
HERE'S THE COMPLETE MIAMI DOLPHINS 2021 SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)
Saturday, Aug. 14 — at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 21 — ATLANTA, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 29 — at Cincinnati, 4 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 12 — at New England, 4:25 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 19 — BUFFALO, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 26 — at Las Vegas, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 3 — INDIANAPOLIS, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 10 — at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.*
Sunday, Oct. 17 — vs. Jacksonville (at London, England), 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, Oct 24 — ATLANTA, 1 p.m.*
Sunday, Oct. 31, — at Buffalo, 1 p.m.*
Sunday, Nov. 7 — HOUSTON, 1 p.m.*
Thursday, Nov. 11 — BALTIMORE, 8:20 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 21 — at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.*
Sunday, Nov. 28 — CAROLINA, 1 p.m.*
Sunday, Dec. 5 — N.Y. GIANTS, 1 p.m.*
Sunday, Dec. 12 — Bye Week
Saturday, Dec. 18 or Sunday, Dec. 19 — N.Y. JETS, TBD
Monday, Dec. 27 — at New Orleans, 8:15 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 2 — at Tennessee, 1 p.m.*
Sunday, Jan. 9 — NEW ENGLAND, 1 p.m.*