Breakdown: The Dolphins will begin this season with playoff expectations after last year’s 8-8 finish. But in order to make the postseason, Miami must get through a competitive schedule that includes six games -- Broncos, Chiefs, Packers, Chargers and Patriots (twice) -- against playoff teams from a year ago. It also will be interesting to see how the Dolphins handle their long trip to London to face the Oakland Raiders in Week 4. But perhaps Miami’s biggest hurdle is within the AFC East. The Dolphins have been a disappointing 4-8 against division opponents the past two seasons. Miami opens its season against the New England Patriots at home in Week 1 and on the road against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. Miami was 2-4 last year against AFC East teams. That cannot happen in 2014 if the Dolphins aim to end their five-year playoff drought.
Complaint department: Miami does not play back-to-back home games until the final two games of the season. That means the Dolphins must really be on their "A" game on the road this year in order to put together any kind of significant winning streak. I also thought the Dolphins would get more than two prime-time games. Miami is a young team with a young quarterback and missed the playoffs by one game. The Dolphins will play on Thursday night against Buffalo in Week 11 and on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" against the Jets in Week 13.
Bevy of reunions: The 2014 season will be the year of reunions for Miami's players and coaches. The biggest reunion will be in Week 6 when Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin hosts his former team, the Green Bay Packers, for the first time. Philbin came up the ranks in Green Bay as a longtime assistant and eventually became a successful offensive coordinator. In terms of players, new Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3. New Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno also will make a return trip to Denver in Week 12 to face the Broncos after leading the Super Bowl runners-up in rushing last season.
Dolphins Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, New England, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, Kansas City, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, at Oakland, 1 p.m. (in London)
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, San Diego, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 13, Buffalo, 8:25 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, at Denver, 4:25 p.m.
Week 13: Monday, Dec. 1, at NY Jets, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, at New England, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, NY Jets, 1 p.m.