Last Word on Pro Football is producing a series in which we break down each teams strength of schedule. It will consist of the most difficult (1-8) and easiest (9-16) games on each team’s 16-game slate. In this article, the Miami Dolphins easiest games in 2017 is the focus.
Miami Dolphins Easiest Games in 2017
9. Week 1: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Miami Dolphins have proven to come out of the home gates strong in their last five seasons. They have won four of the last five opening home games, which includes defeating the Patriots and the Falcons. Though showing promise under second-year quarterback Jameis Winston, the defense has been a liability for the Buccaneers. In 2016, the Bucs were ranked 22nd in run defense, which bodes well for upstart running back Jay Ajayi. He rushed for over 1,250 yards in his first year with the Dolphins, earning him a Pro-Bowl selection. His 4.9 yards a carry complemented with the gun-slinging Jay Cutler, who has a bevy of great receivers in Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry, and DeVante Parker.
10. Week 2: at San Diego Chargers
On week 10 in 2016, the Dolphins were able to defeat the Chargers on the road by a touchdown. The Dolphins have improved defensively with the acquisition of Lawrence Timmons, who will be able to contain the run and cover tight-ends in open space. The Chargers defense is also still porous, as they ranked 20th in the league against the pass. This can foreshadow a huge day through the air with Miami’s elite receivers that are slowly improving each year.
11. Week 3: at New York Jets
The Jets organization has been a huge mess this offseason, as they look for the next quarterback to even get them into the red zone twice a game. They have not announced a starter but it seems to be injury-prone quarterback Josh McCown. McCown is joining his tenth NFL team since 2002, truly stamping his legacy as a journeyman. His current competition is Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, who need years of development to even be considered a journeyman. The Jets have also lost their top receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Will the Jets even reach double digits in their game against the improved Dolphins defense?
12. Week 4: vs New Orleans Saints
The Dolphins starters will be sitting by the fourth quarter to rest up for their game across the Atlantic to face the Saints. This extra quarter of rest will be essential to prevent any key injuries and heal any nagging injuries. Though they will be coming off two straight road games, the Dolphins will light up the 27th ranked defense in the league. This team was the worst team in the league in allowed pass yards per game. The Dolphins will attack this porous defense with their bevy of receivers and tight-ends that will demolish the Saints secondary.
13. Week 5: vs Tennessee Titans
There will be exhausting and worn-out players after a divisional game on the road against the Houston Texans. Taking hard hits by players like Brian Cushing, Jadeveon Clowney, and J.J. Watt, could cause physical fatigue for the Titans. The Titans offensive linemen will have a whole lot of pressure coming from Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, who have both looked great in training camp. It will be anticipated that Marcus Mariota will be extra cautious about scrambling out of the pocket after taking numerous hits. On paper, this game will be a coin-flip, but the Dolphins will get the edge because of the home-field advantage.
14. Week 7: vs New York Jets
After a predicted loss to the Atlanta Falcons on the road, the Dolphins will look to rebound against the lowly Jets. Last season, the Dolphins were able to gain a series sweep of their divisional rivals, which can be repeated. This comes especially after a team that is under a rebuilding process and still looking to build a team identity. The game will be closer than expected with the Jets not allowing themselves to roll over to a divisional foe. In last year’s matchup, the Jets were leading until the last five minutes of the game. A kick-return touchdown ruined the Jets brief lead and celebration, as the Dolphins were able to hold onto the win.
15. Week 15: at Buffalo Bills
The Bills and the Dolphins have proven to have battles in the trenches every time they play each other. The Dolphins were able to gain a season sweep because of the drastic improvement Adam Gase had made in quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In both matchups, the Dolphins were able to put up an average of 31 points on the Buffalo Bills. This spells trouble for a team that actually lost key contributors to their already penetrable defense. The Bills lost Zach Brown and Stephon Gilmore to free agency, which puts pressure on their already young defense.
16. Week 17: vs Buffalo Bills
A week after facing the powerful Patriots, the Bills have to finish their season in Miami. This team will have a below .500 record with team morale at a low point because of another sub-par season. Besides bragging rights, the Bills will have nothing to play for and possibly put in some younger guys. First-year head coach Sean McDermott will seek to find players that he sees fit his mold for the team’s future and lead the team into next years playoffs. Though it will not be a complete dumpster fire, the Dolphins will be coming into this game with more to play for. This comes after facing the Chiefs and New England twice, within a five-week span.
Be sure to check out the eight most difficult games of the 2017 Miami Dolphins schedule.