With a quick glance at the Miami Dolphins' 2022 regular season schedule, there are some things that immediately jump out.
Before we get to those and dive into an analysis of the schedule with some thoughts, takeaways and observations, we'll run down the whole schedule.
MIAMI DOLPHINS 2022 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
(All times Eastern)
Week 1 — Sunday, Sept. 11, New England, 1 p.m.
Week 2 — Sunday, Sept. 18, at Baltimore, 1 p.m .
Week 3 — Sunday, Sept. 25, Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 4 — Thursday, Sept. 29, at Cincinnati, 8:15 p.m.
Week 5 — Sunday, Oct. 9, at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 6 — Sunday, Oct. 16, Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 7 — Sunday, Oct. 23, Pittsburgh, 8:20 p.m.
Week 8 — Sunday, Oct. 30, at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 9 — Sunday, Nov. 6, at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Week 10 — Sunday, Nov. 13, Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 11 — Bye
Week 12 — Sunday, Nov. 27, Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 13 — Sunday, Dec. 4, at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.
Week 14 — Sunday, Dec. 11, at L.A. Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Week 15 — Saturday, Dec. 17 or Sunday, Dec. 18, at Buffalo
Week 16 — Sunday, Dec. 25, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 17 — Sunday, Jan. 1, at New England, 1 p.m.
Week 18 — Saturday, Jan. 7 or Sunday, Jan. 8, N.Y. Jets
Right away, we couldn't help but notice the Dolphins getting only two scheduled prime-time appearances (we say "scheduled" because that number can increase through flex scheduling).
There's also no Monday night appearance after the Dolphins got one of those games last year against the New Orleans Saints in late December.
What the Dolphins getting only two prime-time games, three short of the league maximum, tells us that the folks who make the schedule aren't yet convinced the Dolphins deserve a lot of the national spotlight.
That also is evident if you look at the large number of 1 p.m. Eastern time kickoffs and the absence of national doubleheader games, the ones where you always find teams like Dallas, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and in normal years Pittsburgh (the Steelers didn't get a 4:25 p.m. kickoff this year after the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger).
The two night games certainly are interesting, though, one pitting Tua Tagovailoa against Joe Burrow in a matchup of 2020 first-round quarterbacks and the other featuring the return to Miami of former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.
THE EITHER/OR GAME
For the third consecutive year, the Dolphins have a December game that's among a group of five matchups that could be moved to one of three Saturday time slots.
It's how they wound up facing the Las Vegas Raiders on a Saturday night in December 2020 before they 2021 home game against the New York Jets ended up staying put as a Sunday game.
This time it's the Dolphins' Week 15 game at Buffalo that is scheduled for one of two dates, Dec. 17 of Dec. 18.
The other four games involved in the either/or scenario are Baltimore at Cleveland, Indianapolis at Minnesota, Atlanta at new Orleans and New York Giants at Washington, and based on those matchups we'd suggest it looks pretty good for those who want to see the Dolphins get one of the three Saturday games — at 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m. or 8:15 p.m.
Of course, every team's final game is subject to be moved, with the added twist of two games being played on Saturday, Jan. 7 along with the regular season finale on the night of Jan. 8.
THE TOUGH STRETCHES
The Dolphins' strength of schedule is about in the middle of the pack based on 2021 records, but it's going to look borderline brutal at the start of the season and during December.
While the Patriots sure look like a team that could be headed for a downswing, that opener is going to be followed by three really tough matchups — at Baltimore, Buffalo, at Cincinnati.
But then, that's not even as rough as the four-game stretch in December that includes three straight road games against San Francisco, the Chargers and the Bills followed by the Christmas Day home game against Aaron Rogers and the Packers.
If the Dolphins can manage both stretches, that could be their ticket to a playoff berth.
-- While there might not be any kind of announcement on this for a while, one certainly would expect the Dolphins to stay and practice in California between their road games against the 49ers and Chargers. That's what they did in 2016 when they faced the Chargers in San Diego and then the Rams in Los Angeles.
-- The Dolphins facing Cleveland in Week 10 probably isn't good news if the idea is to avoid facing Deshaun Watson. If the controversial quarterback ends up having to serve an NFL suspension because of the sexual misconduct lawsuits filed against him, it likely would come at the start of the season and might not be long enough to keep him out of action until that Week 10.
-- While we expect the Jets to be significantly better, it's still probably beneficial for the Dolphins to end the season against them instead of Buffalo or New England. This actually will be the first time since 2014 the Dolphins will close out the season against the Jets.