With the NFL schedule release imminent (at the time of this writing, it has not been fully released), the Dolphins seem to be once again fighting an uphill battle. Our 2023 opponents have been known for quite some time, but let’s visit the strength of the schedule and find out how it’s determined. As it stands right now, the Dolphins will play some darn good football teams. For starters, they’ll be on the road against last year’s Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, which we found out yesterday will be played in Germany in week 9. We will also go head-to-head with the runner-up Philadelphia Eagles in Philly. That’s enough of a challenge, but like any good commercial, wait, there’s more! 


When it comes to figuring out what makes one schedule more difficult than the next, the NFL uses a very simple metric, the previous season’s win percentage and a projection of the records for the upcoming season. For example, the Dolphins’ opponents have a combined projected win total of 158-127-2 and a previous win percentage of .554. When you compare that to the Atlanta Falcons, who have the easiest schedule with a projected win total of 119-167-3 and a .417 percentage, you start to see the difference. Now, let’s remember that projections are just that, meaning some teams will outperform while others will underwhelm. 


We can look at how the schedule comes together as well; obviously, a team has to play its division opponents twice a year, which accounts for six games, leaving 11 other games and a bye to fill an 18-week season. Each season, a team has to play one entire division from both the AFC and NFC, this year the Dolphins will face the NFC East (Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Commanders) and the AFC West (Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos). So now we are at 14 total games; this leaves a team in each conference that finished in the same place in the standings, we finished second, so we face the Ravens from the AFC North and the Panthers from the NFC South, the final game is a team of a division that the team will not be facing, leaving us with the Titans from the AFC South to complete 17 games. 


It seems simple enough, but that’s just how opponents are determined; the schedule itself is more daunting. Most fans will let out audible grunts and groans when they see that their team has a tough schedule; however, as the saying goes, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. The Eagles received a lot of flak last year during their win streak due to the “Who have they played?” narrative. At the end of the day, they still made it to the Super Bowl and lost on a last-second field goal. 


If the Miami Dolphins are going to get any sort of national respect, it’s going to start by beating the better teams in the league, and in 2023 the team has a very good chance to do just that. Fans, me included, will likely comb the schedule to scrutinize prime-time games or lack thereof and start to generate record predictions to keep ourselves entertained until September. For now, enjoy the schedule release and keep a look out for the Dolphins’ social media release video; they take great pride in the work they do, so react and share when you see the post, and after that, feel free to stare at the schedule for as long as you like.