Despite the fact that the start of the regular season is still about five months away, yesterday’s schedule announcement was met with plenty of enthusiasm and excitement. While many things will change for the Dolphins and the 13 teams they’ll face this year between now and September, there are still some definite storylines to examine. Below we do just that, beginning with the opener at Houston:
Week 1 at Houston: The Dolphins open the Joe Philbin era on the road with a chance to remove the goose egg from their all-time record vs. the Texans. Will win #1 for the new coach also be the franchise’s first against this team?
Week 2 vs. Oakland: The Fins play their first home game of the season against the Raiders, a team they have looked very good against each of the last two seasons. After being originally scheduled for a 4:15 kickoff, the NFL announced on 4/19 that it would be moved to 1pm to accommodate fans who will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah that night.
Week 3 vs. NY Jets: Another early season visit to Sun Life for Gang Green and this time, it’ll be under the sun. A 1 pm kickoff on September 23rd means that it should be nice and toasty for Tony Sparano’s return to South Florida.
Week 4 at Arizona: In 2008, it was a September loss at Arizona that resulted in the birth of the Wildcat the following week at New England. Hopefully this time the Fins come out on top, as Karlos Dansby and Richard Marshall return to see their old team.
Week 5 at Cincinnati: Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle returns to the place he spent the last nine years as the Fins get to check out two of last year’s rookie standouts, Andy Dalton and AJ Green.
Week 6 vs. St. Louis: Jeff Fisher will coach in Miami this season after all, though just this one game. The big question will be who his defensive coordinator is. Nice chance for Dolphins fans to see former #1 overall pick Sam Bradford in person.
Week 7, Bye: The Dolphins enjoy the latest Bye Week they’ve had since 2007, when the 1-15 team had their break Week 9. As Philbin pointed out last night, if you include the preseason, this bye will come after they’ve played 10 games and when they have 10 more to play.
Week 8 at NY Jets: Strangely the Dolphins will finish their regular season series with the Jets before they see either the Bills or Patriots.
Week 9 at Indianapolis: There’s no more Peyton Manning in Indy, but the Dolphins will presumably get to see Andrew Luck. It’s also a match-up of first year coaches: Philbin and former Hurricanes assistant Chuck Pagano.
Week 10 vs. Tennessee: As of now, the thing that I’m most curious about is if last year’s #8 overall pick, Jake Locker, will be starting at quarterback for the Titans by the time this one rolls around.
Week 11 at Buffalo: This is the lone primetime game for the Dolphins this season, as they’ll face the Bills on Thursday night November 15th. Incredibly, this is the first night game for the Fins at Buffalo since 1984.
Week 12 vs. Seattle: Pete Carroll, Matt Flynn and the Seahawks new uniforms make the longest trip in the NFL for this November 25th game. The Dolphins have won four of their last five against Seattle going back to 2000.
Week 13 vs. New England: The first of five games to be played in the month of December and the first match-up of the season between the Dolphins and the preseason favorites in the division.
Week 14 at San Francisco: The Dolphins make their longest trip of the season for this 12/9 game at the Stick–presumably their last-ever game at the historic stadium by the Bay. Assuming everyone’s healthy, Vontae and Vernon Davis will get to play against each other as pros for the first time and we may also get to see old friend Ted Ginn, Jr.
Week 15 vs. Jacksonville: Will it be a David Garrard vs. Chad Henne match-up on December 16th? Or maybe Matt Moore vs. Blaine Gabbert? It’s way too early to know, but there’s plenty of familiarity between the quarterbacks in this one.
Week 16 vs. Buffalo: The Dolphins will play back-to-back road games inside the AFC East to close the regular season and will finish off their home schedule against the Bills.
Week 17 at New England: For the third straight year, the Fins’ final road game will be at New England. And while there are some potential cold-weather games earlier in the season (10/28 at Jets, 11/15 at Bills), the season finale seems to be the only slam dunk freeze your backside off game of 2012.
You can follow Jesse on Twitter @finsjesse
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The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.