- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The 2014 season will be a year of no excuses for the Miami Dolphins. It could be a make-or-break season for many in Miami, including third-year head coach Joe Philbin and third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins finished 8-8 in 2013 and in third place in the AFC East.
Next season Miami must thrive against the 12th-toughest strength of schedule in the NFL. It includes six games against playoff teams from last season. The Dolphins will play the rival New England Patriots twice, the San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and the reigning AFC champion Denver Broncos. None of these games will be easy.
Miami also faces a unique challenge next season: traveling to London to face the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 28. The long travel could have an adverse effect on the Dolphins if the team isn’t well-prepared. Miami is expected to have an early bye after the London trip, so the team can get its schedule back to normal.
However, one of Miami’s biggest issues has been winning in the AFC East. The Dolphins are just 4-8 against division opponents the past two seasons under Philbin. He must change that in 2014 if he wants to prove he is the long-term solution in Miami. Philbin is just 15-17 in his first two seasons.