By: Marek Brave (@MBrave13)
For the first time since Dan Marino retired over twenty years ago, the Miami Dolphins are worthy of playing meaningful games under the glow of prime-time lights. That’s right, this team has STAR POWER in droves with the additions of Will Fuller, Jaelan Phillips and Jaylen Waddle. Miami has a head coach that fans want to see roaming the sidelines and dialing up the X’s and O’s in Brian Flores. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Dolphins have a household name lining up under center in The Left Arm of God, Tua Tagovailoa.
No longer will our team be relegated to playing 95% of their games on Sundays in the early afternoon. No longer will our team’s only prime-time game be a random Thursday night contest against the basement dwellers of the National Football League. Miami returns to Monday Night Football in 2021 and will once again reclaim the spotlight that once shined bright on this historic South Florida franchise!
The 2021 NFL schedule was released Wednesday night, and all around the world, Dolphins fans beamed with pride as our confidence in our team was justified by the decision-makers of the NFL when Miami was awarded three prime-time games when you include the early start for the week six game in London against the Jaguars. Let’s break the schedule down and discuss how this team will fare when these match-ups go from letters on pieces of paper and computer screens to real-life, smash-mouth action.
WEEK 1: @ Patriots
WEEK 2: vs Bills
WEEK 3: @ Raiders
WEEK 4: vs Colts
WEEK 5: @ Buccaneers
WEEK 6: @ Jaguars (9:30am EST in London)
WEEK 7: vs Falcons
WEEK 8: @ Bills
WEEK 9: vs Texans
WEEK 10: vs Ravens (TNF)
WEEK 11: @ Jets
WEEK 12: vs Panthers
WEEK 13: vs Giants
WEEK 14: BYE
WEEK 15: vs Jets
WEEK 16: @ Saints (MNF)
WEEK 17: @ Titans
WEEK 18: vs Patriots
The first thing that jumps out to me when assessing the first few weeks of the 2021 schedule is the fact that Miami will play four of their first six games on the road. For a team that has started slow out of the gates the last few seasons, having to travel to hostile stadiums early on will be a true test of this team’s character. One positive in that is that they will travel to New England when the weather is still warm, so they won’t have to deal with playing in the cold temperatures or even snow.
Week six sees Miami’s first game of the season in front of a national audience when they travel to London to face Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the Jaguars should be an improved team, Miami will still be rolling out a vaunted defense against a rookie QB and a first year head coach. Set your alarm, pour yourself a hot cup of coffee and hunker down for what should be an exciting contest across the pond.
In week eight, Miami will travel to Buffalo to face the team that knocked them out of playoff contention last season. The Bills return most of their starters from last season and are sure to be a stiff test once again. The Dolphins will need to be on their A games to walk away with the victory, but with the additions Miami made this past off-season, plus the fact that they’ll avoid the frigid temperatures of a late season game in Buffalo, this one should be much closer than the drubbing the Fins took in week 17 of the 2020 season.
In week ten, Miami welcomes Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens to South Florida for a Thursday Night Football match-up under the bright lights of Hard Rock Stadium. This will be the Dolphins’ second prime-time game of the 2021 season. Recent history has shown us that Miami struggles against Baltimore, losing eight of their last nine regular season games against the Ravens, including a 59-10 shellacking in the first game of Brian Flores’ tenure as head coach back in 2019. Flores and the rest of Miami’s squad should be looking for revenge come week ten.
Miami’s schedule lightens up a bit starting in week eleven when they travel to New Jersey to take on the New York Jets. I don’t have to tell you how much hatred we have as a fan base towards the Jets. This game will be circled on many calendars as the much anticipated first game against New York’s new signal caller, Zach Wilson. Let’s hope Flores dials up plenty of pressure so Miami can show Wilson just what Fins football is all about.
Following games against the Panthers and Giants, Miami will enjoy a much needed BYE week during the week 14 slate. After playing for 13 consecutive weeks, including a trip to London and a short week leading into TNF against the Ravens, our boys in aqua and orange will be kicking back with their feet up before getting ready for the home stretch of the 2021 season.
Immediately following the BYE, Miami welcomes the Jets to South Florida. Jump up two paragraphs to refresh yourself on just what I think this game will mean to the Dolphins players, coaches and fans.
Week 16 brings Miami’s final prime-time game of the season barring any late season flexes. The New Orleans Saints come to town and despite the retirement of Drew Brees, the Saints are going to be a tough out, especially since the game is in New Orleans. However, if Jameis Winston is the QB, I’m calling at least two Xavien Howard interceptions in this one.
Miami will travel to Nashville in week 17 to meet former Fins quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, and the rest of the Tennessee Titans. The Titans lost a lot of firepower this off-season as Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith left for New York and New England respectively. Keeping Derrick Henry in check will be paramount if Miami wants to come away with a victory in this one.
The Dolphins open the season in New England and they’ll end the season by welcoming the Patriots to Miami to close out the 2021 slate. Hopefully the Fins will have a playoff spot locked up at this point, but think about how sweet it would be to keep Bill Belichick out of the playoffs for a second consecutive year with a decisive win against Cam Newton or McCorkle Jones. If Tua and the boys can put their cleats on the necks of the Patriots in week 17, I say skip resting key starters and stomp the Pats.
I’m not going to predict a record for this team just yet. Let’s let training camp happen and see where things stand with our young nucleus of players before we claim Miami is going undefeated in the 2021 season. One thing we can say with confidence is that this team is going to be an exciting one to watch this upcoming year. Fins up!