Earlier this week, the Miami Dolphins joined the rest of the NFL in releasing their 2023 schedule for the world to see, and it certainly left mixed reactions.
On one hand, the schedule features long home stretches near the end of the season, along with numerous primetime matchups and just as many nationally televised games, including some special ones on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and for the first time ever, a Black Friday game.
Get your popcorn ready. 🍿
Introducing your 2023 Miami Dolphins schedule! pic.twitter.com/afSl4VYbpn
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 12, 2023
But at the same time, Miami will have their work cut out for them, as they have the second hardest strength of schedule in the 2023 NFL season. Facing off against seven teams that made the playoffs last year, including the two Super Bowl contestants, this Dolphins team will be put the test against some of the League’s best.
IT’S BACK TO FOOTBALL TIME
This is the third straight season that all 32 NFL teams will be playing 17 games, and as such, the amount of home and road game every team has differs. For Miami, they’ll be getting an extra ninth home game.
Before the regular season is underway, the Dolphins will be playing the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars (In that order) in the preseason. The Falcons game is the only one at Hard Rock Stadium and will take place on Friday, August 11th at 7pm.
It’s also worth noting that most of the games at the latter end of the season are flexible, meaning that they could be moved into a primetime slot if the matchup is important enough to warrant a change, such as if a playoff position is on the line.
Among the changes to the schedule this season:
🏈NFL will have a Black Friday game for the first time ever.
🏈Games don’t necessarily “belong” to networks anymore. All games are free agents.
🏈Teams can be on Thursday Night Football twice.
🏈Not all teams are guaranteed to…
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 8, 2023
This is also the first season where a Thursday Night Football game is not guaranteed for every team. Such is the case, Miami is one of the few teams that don’t have one.
One last thing to mention is that every time Miami plays a team from the NFC East in a non-primetime game, the game will be broadcasted on FOX. Every other non-primetime game between an AFC opponent, along with the Carolina Panthers, will be on CBS.
Miami’s on the Road Again
Hard Rock Stadium’s home field advantage for the Dolphins is infamous, especially after the Buffalo Bills fiasco last season that saw New Yorkers complaining about the heat. Maybe the NFL took notice, as Miami will be on the road for three of their first four games of the season.
Week One features the Dolphins at Sofi Stadium taking on the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, September 10th at 4pm.
This is Miami’s lone trip to California this season, and is a rematch of the Sunday Night disaster last season where the Fins offense could not get a spark the whole game. That said, Justin Herbert and the Chargers are reeling off the embarrassing defeat against Jacksonville in the 2022 playoffs, and are looking to make amends. Despite being the first game of the season, this might feel like a future playoff preview.
We're getting a 2020 Draft rematch between Tua and Herbert 🎯@MiamiDolphins | @chargers pic.twitter.com/6FPfsi6gMV
— NFL (@NFL) May 15, 2023
After that in Week Two is a Sunday Night Football matchup in Foxborough against the New England Patriots.
Not only will the Patriots be entering this game not even having to leave Boston, but they might still be off the high of their home opener against Philadelphia in which they’ll honor Tom Brady, who will be in attendance. Miami’s last trip to New England was certainly a forgettable one.
Still, New England is in the midst of a tailspin after a lackluster 2022 campaign, and many fans are calling for the end of of Bill Belichick’s tenure as the head coach of the Pats, along with their starting quarterback Mac Jones. A new addition that Fins fans will notice, however, is their brand new tight end and former Miami Dolphin, Mike Gesicki.
Patriots have agreed to terms with TE Mike Gesicki on a one-year deal worth up to $9 million. (via @MikeGarafolo, @TomPelissero) pic.twitter.com/7ElHW3MSdD
— NFL (@NFL) March 17, 2023
Miami’s home opener will take place in Week Three on September 24th against the Denver Broncos.
Under the direction of quarterback Russel Wilson last season, Denver’s offense faltered instead of progressed last season, and the team finished with a 5-12 record. Statistically speaking, this may be the weakest team the Dolphins will play in 2023.
Still, this will be the first time current Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and linebacker Bradley Chubb will compete against their former team. While Fangio’s time as the head coach for Denver was brief, the Broncos defense was statistically one of the best in football.
The Dolphins can’t rest after this as they’ll have to head back on the road in Week Four to take on the Buffalo Bills.
Maybe this is a blessing in disguise for Miami, as the weather in early October shouldn’t be as cold, snowy, and frigid as it was when the Dolphins fell to Buffalo in a winter wonderland last season.
As far as the Bills go, they’re still regarded as the best team in the AFC East, despite barely getting by Skyler Thompson and the Dolphins in the 2022 Wild Card, and then laying an egg against Cincinnati in the Divisional Round.
If Miami really wanted to turn heads and prove themselves a problem in the stacked AFC, a win here early on might give them the momentum they need for Week Five and onward.
A Matter of NFC and Germany
After the Buffalo game, the Dolphins will get a taste of the NFC, though fortunately the majority of which are at home. Week Five features the first game in October, as Miami will host the New York Giants on the 8th.
The last time the Dolphins played New York in 2021, Mike Glennon was the starting quarterback and it was an easy win for Miami. Suffice to say, things have changed for the Giants. After a 9-7-1 record including a playoff win over Minnesota, New York is the real deal in a stacked NFC East division.
After that, Miami gets to stay home to take on the Carolina Panthers the following week. This is the sole team the Dolphins will face from the NFC South, as per the extra home game on the season.
The Panthers are a blank slate compared to last season, most notably with the quarterback transition to Bryce Young, the number one overall draft pick. Yet another highly regarded quarterback to come out of Alabama, Young will have his work cut out for him against one of the best projected defenses in Miami, including one of the biggest trades in the offseason involving cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Young 1. pic.twitter.com/TqpE1Ke0jI
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) April 28, 2023
Along with Denver, Carolina is likely one of the weakest teams the Dolphins will face this season.
Hopefully Miami takes advantage of that Panthers game, because the next on the 2023 schedule might be the hardest there is- a Sunday Night Football matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, the defending NFC champions.
Two primetime games up to this point, and both have been on the road. Philadelphia surprised many people with how dominant they were in their playoff run, blowing out both the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers before falling just short to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. As big as a win against Buffalo would be, knocking off Philly in their home stadium under the spotlight would be an instant highlight of the season.
The Dolphins will meet the New England Patriots once more in Week Eight on Sunday, October 29th, this time at the (presumably still hot) Hard Rock Stadium. Certainly a changeup from 2022 in which Miami opened up their season with a win against the Pats, but if the Fins can handle New England in Foxborough, then they should play solid against them back in the 305.
One of the more interesting games on the schedule, the Dolphins will travel to Frankfurt, Germany in Week Nine to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on November 5th, with the game starting at 9:30 AM in the Eastern Time Zone.
What can’t be said about the Kansas City Chiefs? Coming off their second Super Bowl win in four years, fans and experts expected them to drop off after they traded Tyreek Hill to Miami. But quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a still stacked Chiefs offense cruised by the AFC, and they look to repeat once more.
Pack your bags, we’re going to Germany! 🇩🇪
Dolphins vs. Chiefs coming at you live from Frankfurt this November! ✈️ pic.twitter.com/EQubZk1yZZ
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 10, 2023
Regardless, this is still be the first time Hill will play against his former team. Two of the most explosive offenses in one game should prove for a high-octane matchup that isn’t short on the point. The fact that this game is in Frankfurt Stadium and not Arrowhead may take away from the excitement a little bit, but a win here for the Fins would be just as remarkable as a win in Philadelphia or Buffalo.
As per usual with the NFL International Series, teams who play overseas will have an extra week off to recover, as Miami’s Bye Week follows the Kansas City game.
Getting to the Home Stretch
After the week off, the Dolphins are set to host the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, November 9th.
Similarly to the Panthers, the Raiders have a fresh face at quarterback, as Jimmy Garoppolo is set to lead Vegas forward. While they should have a solid offense with reliable weapons such as Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, and Hunter Renfrow, their defense is still suspect and something the Fins can gamble on.
After Vegas is Miami’s first matchup of the season against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Interestingly, this will be the first ever NFL game on Black Friday, November 24th, and will be nationally televised.
Miami split their season series last year with the Jets, but take this with a grain of salt as Tua (And Teddy Bridgewater, for that matter) didn’t play in either game. Hopefully Tua will be healthy and ready to go for this game, but if he’s not, then backup quarterback Mike White would get a change to play against his former team.
BREAKING: Packers trading Aaron Rodgers to the Jets. (via @rapsheet, @TomPelissero) pic.twitter.com/FSrKV66l0q
— NFL (@NFL) April 24, 2023
The Jets made a big splash this offseason, trading for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers is considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, we’ll have to wait and see how that translates to a brand new offensive scheme, head coach, and overall roster.
Miami will stay on the road for a Week 13 game against the Washington Commanders on December 3rd.
Another team with a roster that raises more questions than answers, the Commanders starting quarterback is believed to be Sam Howell, a fifth-round pick in 2022,. All things considered, Washington is certainly not a team that will raise eyebrows on paper. That said, the Commanders have had a habit of knocking off undefeated, high-caliber teams, so Miami shouldn’t take this matchup for granted.
Finishing the Season with a BANG
Things will REALLY get interesting from here on out, as four of Miami’s last five games of the regular season will be at home. Hopefully this will be something the Dolphins can take advantage of in the midst of a playoff push.
The madness starts off with a Monday Night Football matchup against the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium on December 11th.
With this game being the only primetime game at home for Miami, they get to face off against their former quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. Despite also having running back Derrick Henry at their side, the Titans as a whole were disappointing in 2022, and there have been no massive free agency signings for them either.
The Titans also draft quarterback Will Levis in the second round of the NFL Draft as well, so this might be a make r break season for Tannehill and his time in Nashville.
Moving on. The Dolphins will host the Jets the week after on December 17th. The last time Miami played New York at home was the last game of the regular season in 2022 in which Skyler Thompson led the Fins to a win and more importantly, a playoff berth.
On Christmas Eve, Miami will host the Dallas Cowboys in a rare 4pm game.
The NFL is slowly executing a massive holiday takeover.
This season’s schedule includes:
🦃 Three games on Thanksgiving
🛍️ A game on Black Friday
🎄 A full slate on Christmas Eve
🎄 Three games on Christmas Day
🎊 A game on New Year’s Eve pic.twitter.com/ilYJESXSuK
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) May 11, 2023
The Cowboys were another team to come out of the NFC East as playoff contenders last season, and quarterback Dak Prescott knocked off Tom Brady and Tampa Bay in the first round. They have a lot of talent at their disposal, but America’s Team still hasn’t lived up to their massive expectations for the last few years. In any event, a win against Dallas will always spark national media attention, something Miami can take advantage of.
The final road game will be in Week 17 against the Baltimore Ravens on New Year’s Eve. Many Fins fans point to the miraculous victory over Baltimore last season, in which Tua threw six touchdowns, as the best game there was.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson was a big target in free agency, but he ended up signing a massive contract this offseason to stay with the Ravens. The perennial playoff team that they are, this could certainly be another postseason preview for Miami at the latter end of 2023.
Into the New Year, the Dolphins will finish their regular season hosting the Buffalo Bills, however the date and time is yet to be determined.
If both teams enter this game with a chance to clinch the AFC East, expect a Sunday Night showdown on January 7th. If the game is meaningless due to records, expect a 1pm or 4pm slot. Miami’s win over Buffalo at home last season was their first since 2018.
Final Thoughts on the Schedule
Overall, this is a mixed bag when it comes to the pros and cons of the schedule. On one hand, the fact that Miami has to start the majority of their game on the road during the front stretch of the season is annoying, as the Dolphins have always had the advantage of the extremely hot weather during August and September.
On the other hand, it’s nice that for once, the road to the playoffs in November and December is not as hectic as it was last season. Having to spend most of the latter end of the season on the road really hurt Miami last year, including the three straight losses against San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Buffalo.
Update that home screen 📲#WallpaperWednesday x #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/xun6GttG6U
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 17, 2023
Regarding nationally televised games, I’m satisfied with the five we have for now. This Dolphins team impressed a lot of people, especially with how close they were to a Wild Card win, and to see that paying off with more and more night games is nice, though I wish Miami had one more at home, though that could be the final game against Buffalo if the stars align.
The most conclusive fact about this schedule is that it will put this Dolphins team to the ultimate test. It will be made clear if Miami is a playoff-worthy team based on how they do against a considerable amount of postseason teams from the past, including the very best. If the Dolphins are for real, and they stay healthy, they’ll have a great year. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
Photo | Kathy Hitchcock
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