The NFL finally released 2022 schedules for all 32 teams. It’s probably the most overhyped event of the NFL off-season. Every fan knows who their team will play except for the dates of the games, obviously. Having all of these shows break down the schedules with favorable or challenging schedules is ridiculous. We are going by how teams finished last year and their off-season moves and departures. How the team looks now could be totally different once the season starts because of injuries, lack of player development, players holding out, or possible trades. For me, just give me my team’s schedule, and it is what it is.
For the 3rd straight season, the Miami Dolphins will open their season against the New England Patriots, but this time it’s in Miami. Both of these teams are trying to compete against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East, and whoever wins this game will have the first leg up. The Dolphins swept the Patriots last year for the first time in 2 decades and right have their number and better team on paper. The Patriots didn’t make a lot of moves in the off-season but did lose some key players like JC Jackson and Shaq Mason. They also made some questionable moves in the draft, but Bill Belichick is their coach and will have his team ready. Can the Dolphins keep having their winning ways against the Patriots?
The rest of the month, the Dolphins travel to play against the Baltimore Ravens in week two. Followed by a home game against the Bills and then finishing the month with a Thursday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. That is a challenging four games to start the season, but not too daunting. The Dolphins have two home games and two road games. The Dolphins have had their troubles playing in Baltimore, but they did beat them last year. However, the Ravens were ravaged by injuries all season long, including quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed the last month of the season. The Ravens will be highly motivated to rebound. The home game against the Bills is a big game because the Dolphins must prove they can compete against the Bills, but they have lost seven games in a row to them, and something will have to give if they are going to turn the tide against their division rivals. The Bengals are the defending AFC Champions; let that sink in. They will not sneak up on anybody this year, so it will be interesting how they respond with expectations. They have not been a consistent winner in a long time so let us see if they can handle the expectations of being the defending AFC Champions.
After September, the schedule becomes more manageable. They play at the New York Jets, home to the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers, a two-game road trip at the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, home to the Cleveland Browns before a bye week, then home to the Houston Texans. If there was a stretch, the Dolphins were going to make a run; this would be it because most of these teams weren’t in the playoffs last year, and frankly, the Dolphins should be better than most of these teams and win a majority of these games. Just because you are better on paper doesn’t guarantee you will win, so they must take care of business in this stretch.
In my mind, the most challenging part of the schedule comes starting in December with a 3-game road trip. They are out west back-to-back weeks against the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers. They close out the 3-game road trip at Buffalo. Talk about a tough three-game trip. The Dolphins can stay out west for two weeks to cut down on travel, but a 3-game road trip can be challenging, especially in the season’s final month. I know some people will say, “Oh, we got to go to Buffalo in December in the snow.” Stop the winters haven’t been that bad over the years. I’m more worried about the windy conditions and not the snow. It’s a tall order, but it’s the one quirk in the schedule you get.
The Dolphins then close the season at home on Christmas day against the Green Bay Packers, then go to New England for the rematch against the Patriots on New Year’s Day, and close the regular season at home against the Jets. Two out of three to close the season is fine and doable, even if we must go up against Aaron Rodgers.
Overall, the schedule is tough, but I expect the Dolphins to do well. The Dolphins can’t afford to get off to a slow start as the last few years, or we will be hearing about a new quarterback and talk of other things as well, maybe even a new coach. I don’t know what to expect with first-time head coach Mike McDaniel, but he seems to have an offensive system in place to take advantage of the players’ skills set. The Dolphins also return all of their starters on defense. The question is can they play better against better offenses, like the Bengals, Vikings, Chargers, and Browns. The Dolphins undoubtedly will have injuries, but hopefully not a lot. There is a lot of time between now and the opener. Hopefully, everybody will develop well in training camp and the preseason, and it will translate in the regular season to win some games to get us over the hump and into the playoffs.