Thu, 19 May 2022

Ten Schedule Observations - 2022 Dolphins Schedule Release

Miami Dolphins
13 May 2022, 22:05 GMT+10

Dolphins Staff

The Miami Dolphins have announced their 2022 regular-season schedule as well as their preseason opponents.

Miami will host home-and-homes with their three divisional opponents, face off against every team in the AFC North and NFC North divisions and take on teams that finished in the same place in their division that Miami did last year (third) in the NFC West, AFC West and AFC South divisions.

Here are 10 observations from the Dolphins' 2022 schedule:

1. Christmas Day at Hard Rock Stadium

One of the most notable games on the 2022 Dolphins schedule comes in Week 16 when Miami hosts Green Bay on Christmas Day. The game will be the first gift to unwrap of an NFL tripleheader that day and will be broadcast nationally on FOX.

Christmas games have been rare for the Dolphins as this is just the fourth one all-time and first since 2006. The Dolphins played their first Christmas game in the 1971 AFC playoffs when they won at Kansas City. Miami has hosted Christmas games at Hard Rock Stadium in a 1994 win vs. Detroit and a 2006 loss vs. the N.Y. Jets.

The Packers are also an exciting opponent that Dolphins fans rarely get to see at home. The historic franchise hasn't played in South Florida since 2014. In fact, that meeting was the only time quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a four-time NFL MVP, has played at Hard Rock Stadium.

2. Sunday Night Football Returns to Miami Gardens

The Dolphins will play in another exclusive broadcast window in Week 7 when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Oct. 23. The game will kick off at 8:20 p.m. on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

It marks Miami's first Sunday Night Football game since 2017, when the Dolphins hosted the Raiders. It's just the Dolphins' third appearance on SNF since NBC took over the rights to the package in 2006.

It's another opportunity for fans to see a prestigious opponent in the Steelers, who haven't played at Hard Rock Stadium since 2016. That was a memorable game for the Dolphins as they entered the contest 1-4 but defeated the Steelers, 30-15, to begin a six-game winning streak that would propel the team to the playoffs.

3. September AFC East Matchups

Fans won't have to wait long for some big-time divisional matchups. The Dolphins open the regular season in Week 1 with a home game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 11.

It's a home matchup that has been friendly to the Dolphins lately as Miami has won seven of it's past nine home games against New England. The Dolphins have also been pretty good in season-openers recently, posting a 6-3 mark in the first game of the year since 2013 despite six of those nine contests coming on the road.

The Dolphins will also host the reigning two-time AFC East champion Buffalo Bills in September in a Week 3 matchup on Sunday, Sept. 25.

4. The Road More Traveled

The Dolphins will play nine regular-season road games for the first time in franchise history this season as all AFC teams will play nine games away from home. When the NFL expanded to a 17-game schedule in 2021, they determined the AFC will play nine home games in odd-numbered years while they'll play nine road games in even-numbered years.

Not only is Miami playing nine road games but Miami also has two West Coast trips scheduled in a back-to-back to San Francisco (Week 13) and the L.A. Chargers (Week 14).

5. Thursday Night Football

Miami's first prime time game of the season is at Cincinnati in Week 4 when they appear on Thursday Night Football on Thurs., Sept. 29. This season is the first year of Thursday Night Football being televised by Amazon Prime Video.

The Dolphins have won each of their past two games on Thursday Night Football. The beat Baltimore at home in 2021 and won at Jacksonville in 2020.

This will be the third matchup between Miami and Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football, which makes the Bengals the Dolphins' most frequent opponent in Thursday games. The Dolphins defeated Cincinnati with an overtime walk-off sack by DE Cameron Wake on Thursday Night Football in 2013. The Bengals got the best of the Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday Night Football in 2016.

The contest will also be the third opponent in Miami's first four games that made the playoffs a season ago. Miami is 3-4 against defending AFC champions since 2017.

6. New Faces

The Dolphins will face three new head coaches this season. The first of which comes in Week 6 when Miami takes on Minnesota and new head coach Kevin O'Connell. Ironically, O'Connell spent part of the 2011 training camp as a quarterback on the Dolphins roster.

In Week 9, the Dolphins will travel to Chicago and face off against Matt Eberflus, who was most recently the defensive coordinator for Indianapolis from 2018-21.

The Dolphins will host Houston in Week 12, who has a first-year but not first-time head coach in Lovie Smith. As head coach for Chicago (2004-12) and Tampa Bay (2014-15), Smith has only faced the Dolphins twice. Miami got the best of him in a 2006 matchup but the Bears won at Miami in 2010 with Smith at the helm. Dolphins Defensive Line Coach Austin Clark actually served as defensive line coach on Smith's staff at the University of Illinois from 2018-19.

7. The Bye Week

The Dolphins have a middle-of-the-road bye week this year with it coming in Week 11, the week before Thanksgiving. That comes one year removed from the latest bye week in team history when Miami had a Week 14 bye in 2021.

The break keeps the Dolphins in South Florida for three straight weeks as they host Cleveland the week before and Houston the week after the bye.

Miami is 16-15 all-time in games preceding the bye week and 19-14 in games following the bye week.

8. Difficult December

There's no easy games in the NFL but the month of December looks to be particularly challenging for the Dolphins on paper. The month begins with three consecutive road games to San Francisco, the L.A. Chargers and Buffalo. It ends with the Christmas Day game against Green Bay.

In addition to the long road trips out west, all four of Miami's opponents in December had winning records last year. Three of them - San Francisco, Buffalo and Green Bay - made the playoffs and the L.A. Chargers just missed out with a 9-8 record. San Francisco advanced to the NFC Championship game.

9. The Season Finale

It's quite common for the NFL to schedule intra-divisional matchups for the final week of the season but despite having only three AFC East opponents to choose from, the Dolphins have not finished the season against the N.Y. Jets since 2014.

That changes this year when the Jets come to Hard Rock Stadium on Jan. 7 or 8 for Week 18. Miami lost that season finale to the Jets in 2014 but have won the previous four times they ended the season with the Jets (1996, 2003, 2008, 2011).

10. Preseason Opponents

The Dolphins also released their preseason schedule. Miami will open with a trip to Tampa Bay on Saturday, Aug. 13. The Buccaneers are Miami's most familiar preseason opponent as this will be their 33rd preseason meeting and first since 2019.

The Dolphins will be home for the rest of the preseason, hosting the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, Aug. 20 and the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Miami is 3-0 all-time against the Raiders in the preseason and haven't faced off against them in an exhibition game since 1991. The Dolphins last faced Philadelphia in the preseason back in 2017 at Lincoln Financial Field.

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