Ranking the 2024 Dolphins Games by Degree of Difficulty

Most of the Dolphins' toughest matchup comes in the final two months of the regular season
Jaelan Phillips bears down on Josh Allen in the 2022 Saturday night game at Buffalo.
Jaelan Phillips bears down on Josh Allen in the 2022 Saturday night game at Buffalo. / JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK
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There are many ways to analyze and evaluate the Miami Dolphins' 2024 schedule, and one of them is to rank each game by degree of difficulty.

And doing that exercise, we'll plainly see that the hardest parts of the schedule mostly come toward the end.

So here, understanding that circumstances can and will change between now and the four months of the regular season because of injuries and other factors, is our ranking (countdown style) of the Dolphins' 17 games by degree of difficulty.

17. Week 12 — vs. New England

This ain't Tom Brady's Patriots anymore. Whether it's rookie Drake Maye or veteran Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, the Pats figure to be heavy underdogs for most, if not all, of their division games.

16. Week 11 — vs. Las Vegas

This game will mark the return to Miami of defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and he's got a formidable defensive line partner with Maxx Crosby, but the Raiders offense with Gardner Minshew or Aidan O'Connell at quarterback and now without Josh Jacobs doesn't really scare anybody.

15. Week 5 — at New England

The one tricky part about this game is that the Dolphins will be coming off a Monday night game and going on the road, but the talent gap between the team is pretty clear.

14. Week 8 — vs. Arizona

This ranking might end up being too low because the Cardinals do have some intriguing possibilities with Jonathan Gannon in his second year as head coach and Marvin Harrison Jr. a major addition on offense, but the Dolphins at home are tough to beat.

13. Week 4 — vs. Tennessee (MNF)

Yes, the Titans shocked the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in a Monday night game last December, but they no longer have Mike Vrabel as head coach or Derrick Henry at running back.

12. Week 1 — vs. Jacksonville

The Jaguars were one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL in 2023 and this will be a big season for QB Trevor Lawrence. But let's not forget Jacksonville won the AFC South in 2022, won a playoff game and then gave the Chiefs all they could handle in the divisional round.

11. Week 14 — vs. N.Y. Jets

This obviously is dependent on Aaron Rodgers still being in the lineup in December, though Tyrod Taylor still would be way more challenging to face and defeat than the Jets' 2023 backups, Zach Wilson and Tim Boyle.

10. Week 7 — at Indianapolis

The Colts' 2023 season ended when they dropped a winner-take-all AFC South showdown against Houston, but early in the season QB Anthony Richardson showed great potential.

9. Week 3 — at Seattle

The Seahawks very well might wind up last in the NFC West by the end of the 2024 season, but Seattle always is a tough place for visiting teams and new head coach Mike Macdonald's defense could be tricky to solve.

8. Week 10 — at L.A. Rams (MNF)

We start getting to the really tough matchups here. Yes, the Rams no longer will have Aaron Donald, but there's plenty of talent on offense and Sean McVay is in the same category as Mike McDaniel as an offensive mastermind.

7. Week 2 — vs. Buffalo (TNF)

We probably should be ranking this game much higher given how Buffalo has handled the Dolphins in recent years, but while the Dolphins won't have their normal hot-weather advantage in this September game, they will have the advantage of playing at home on a very short week.

6. Week 18 — at N.Y. Jets

Again, this assumes Rodgers is in the lineup. Don't be shocked if this ends up being for the AFC East title.

5. Week 17 — at Cleveland (SNF)

The Browns defense was ridiculous (as in ridiculously good) at home last season and even if it drops a little in 2024, facing it on what figure to be very cold conditions only will add to the challenge.

4. Week 15 — at Houston

4. This is mostly about the expectation that the Texans could become a powerhouse this season after what they did in 2023 with a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach. And we also should mention that Houston now has Stefon Diggs, who often has been too much to handle for Miami.

3. Week 13 — at Green Bay (TNF)

The Packers have a lot of similarities to Houston in that it's an up-and-coming team with an awful lot of good young players. And playing at Lambeau Field at night in what could be cold weather only will make this more challenging.

2. Week 16 — vs. San Francisco

Sure, it's a home game, and we generally don't rank home games that high, but the 49ers have been really, really good in December in recent years and this being a 4:25 p.m. game in late December pretty much negates the Dolphins' home-team advantage.

1. Week 9 — at Buffalo

Until further notice, this has to get the top spot. The Dolphins haven't won in Buffalo since 2016 and despite the Bills' offseason losses, this still looks like the most daunting task on the Miami schedule.

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Published
Alain Poupart

ALAIN POUPART

Alain Poupart is the publisher/editor of AllDolphins.com and co-host of the All Dolphins Podcast. Alain has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989 for various publications and media outlets, including Dolphin Digest, The Associated Press, the Dolphins team website, and the Fan Nation Network (part of Sports Illustrated). In addition to being a credentialed member of the Miami Dolphins press corps, Alain has covered three Super Bowls (for NFL.com, Football News and the Montreal Gazette), the annual NFL draft, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL Scouting Combine. During his almost 40 years in journalism, which began at the now-defunct Miami News, Alain has covered practically every sport at one time or another, from tennis to golf, baseball, basketball and everything in between. The career also included time as a copy editor, including work on several books such as "Still Perfect," an inside look at the Miami Dolphins' 1972 perfect season. A native of Montreal, Canada, whose first language is French, Alain grew up a huge hockey fan but soon developed a love for all sports, including NFL football. He has lived in South Florida since the 1980s.