Miami Dolphins Schedule in 2021 NFL: Dates/Time, Team News, Predictions, Key Games
Miami Dolphins Schedule in 2021 NFL: Dates/Time, Team News, Predictions, Key Games

Few people had the Dolphins pegged as a potential playoff team last year, but in Week 17 of the 2020 NFL season, they had a win-and-in postseason scenario. All they had to do was beat the Bills in Week 17, and they would be playing as a wild-card team in the AFC playoffs.

That didn't ultimately come to fruition. In fact, the team gave up 56 points in what was, arguably, their worst game of the season and what was, definitely, Tua Tagovailoa's worst game. Still, the fact that Miami was playing for a postseason berth just a year after having a top-five pick and two years after firing Adam Gase is a big achievement.

Now, Flores will look to take the Dolphins to the next level and get them back to the postseason. Unlike their other highly-rated AFC East counterparts, the Dolphins' schedule doesn't look too tough on paper. Matchups with Lamar Jackson, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, and Trevor Lawrence could test the defense, but the Dolphins are already strong on that side of the ball. It's more about whether their offense can live up to the expectations; they're finally not the loveable, punchy underdogs anymore.

Here is a complete breakdown of the Dolphins’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times, and analysis for all 17 games.

2021 Dolphins schedule

The Dolphins' full schedule was announced as part of the NFL's schedule release on Wednesday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET:

Week Date Opponent Kickoff time TV
1 Sept. 12 at Patriots 4:25 p.m. ET CBS
2 Sept. 19 vs. Bills 1 p.m. ET Fox
3 Sept. 26 at Raiders 4:05 p.m. ET CBS
4 Oct. 3 vs. Colts 1 p.m. ET CBS
5 Oct. 10 at Buccaneers 1 p.m. ET CBS
6 Oct. 17 at Jaguars (London) 1 p.m. ET CBS
7 Oct. 24 vs. Falcons 1 p.m. ET Fox
8 Oct. 31 at Bills 1 p.m. ET CBS
9 Nov. 7 vs. Texans 1 p.m. ET Fox
10 Nov. 11 (TNF) vs. Ravens 8:20 p.m. NFL Network/Fox/Amazon Prime
11 Nov. 21 at Jets 1 p.m. ET CBS
12 Nov. 28 vs. Panthers 1 p.m. ET Fox
13 Dec. 5 vs. Giants 1 p.m. ET Fox
14 Dec. 12 Bye week
15 Dec. 18 or 19 (TBD) vs. Jets TBD TBD
16 Dec. 27 at Saints 8:15 p.m. ET ESPN
17 Jan. 2 at Titans 1 p.m. ET CBS
18 Jan. 9 vs. Patriots 1 p.m. ET CBS

The Dolphins should be better during the 2021 NFL season, too. The Dolphins' defense is strong, especially in the secondary, so that will give them a chance to compete for the AFC East title. They've also added a lot of talent to their offense in receiver Will Fuller and draft picks Jaylen Waddle (WR) and Liam Eichenberg (OT). The Dolphins got off to a 1-3 start last season in Flores' second year in charge but were able to post double-digit wins thanks in part to a five-game winning streak that spanned Weeks 5-10. During that stretch, the Dolphins knocked off the reigning Super Bowl champion 49ers, the playoff-bound Rams, and two dynamic, young QBs in Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert.

Plus, Tua Tagovailoa will be another year removed from a catastrophic hip injury that he suffered in college, so he may be able to do more on the field as a result. He'll need to make the leap in order for the Dolphins to reach their full potential, but Flores and Co. showed faith in the No. 5 overall picks in the '20 NFL Draft.

All told, the Dolphins don't have a very tough-looking schedule on paper, so they should have a chance to make some noise barring an unexpected rise from some of the middling teams on their schedule, according to Sportingnews.


The AFC East is matched up against the NFC South this year, which isn't an ideal draw but could have been worse.

The bad news for the Dolphins is they have to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints—shaping up to be the division's strongest teams again—on the road while welcoming the Carolina Panthers and rebuilding Atlanta Falcons.

The Bucs return almost all of their key players from a roster that won a Super Bowl in 2020, while the gap between Jameis Winston and a then-41-year-old Drew Brees may not be that big for the Saints. Tampa Bay in particular will serve as a solid barometer for where the Dolphins are in 2021.

Miami received some good fortune with the new 17th game. The scheduling formula matched the team up with the New York Giants, the runners-up in the NFC East.

The Giants have been active this offseason but still carry a big question mark as long as Daniel Jones is their starting quarterback.

Intra-conference clashes with the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts figure to be difficult, though the Dolphins at least get those at home.

In general, Miami's schedule isn't a murderer's row, but it does present some tough tests along the way.

Pivotal Matchups

The Ravens and Colts were wild-card teams in 2020, with the latter sneaking in ahead of the Dolphins on the final day of the regular season. They would again be Miami's direct competition for those spots, so the results could carry big consequences.

The Dolphins will also want to measure themselves against the best team in the division, the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo edged out Miami in Week 2 last season before earning a 56-26 victory in Week 17. The Bills defense intercepted Tagovailoa three times, and his 20.2 QBR was the lowest of the year, per The result encapsulated the gap between the two franchises.

The East is likely to run through Buffalo or Miami in 2021, so the Dolphins can't afford to go 0-2 against Buffalo again if they have any aspirations of sitting atop the East standings, Bleacher report cited.

Dolphins key games

  • Week 2 vs. Bills: The Dolphins and Bills are the two best teams in the AFC East and are the favorites to battle things out for the division title. Buffalo knocked Miami out of the playoffs last season in Week 17 with a 56-26 thumping in Orchard Park. The Dolphins haven't beat the Bills since 2018. If Miami wants to win the division for the first time in 13 years, the Dolphins have to beat Buffalo.
  • Week 18 vs. Patriots: New England typically has a difficult time down in Miami, as the Dolphins have won three of their last four games in Hard Rock Stadium. The Patriots are much improved and will look to disrupt the AFC East race. This game is crucial for Miami if the Dolphins wish to win the division title.
  • Week 10 vs. Ravens: The last time Lamar Jackson went down to Miami, he threw for five touchdown passes en route to his MVP season. This Miami team is much better and will be a true test on how good the Dolphins are -- squaring off against one of the league's best teams. This game will be one of the most exciting of the NFL season, Cbssports reported.

Dolphins’ strength of schedule and win/loss prediction

Tied with their division rivals the Buffalo Bills for the 11th toughest schedule in the 2021 season, the Dolphins are in an intriguing position. Can they take advantage of their weak schedule, especially at home, to push on as playoff contenders and see development from Tua Tagovailoa?

Toughest opponents

The Dolphins’ 2021 schedule contains five games against teams expected to win double-digit games. Two of those games come within the division against the Bills, who defeated them twice last season. The second of those losses will particularly live in the memories of the Dolphins coaches and players. Buffalo embarrassed the Dolphins, costing them a spot in the AFC playoffs as a result.

The other three games come against playoff teams from last season in the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The stand-out game there in terms of matchups is with Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. Miami has a good memory of recent success against Brady, defeating his Patriots’ team three times from 2017-2019.

Easiest opponents

On the other end of the spectrum when it comes to the Dolphins’ 2021 schedule are four games against teams projected to win seven games or fewer. Two of those games come against a New York Jets team who the Dolphins swept in 2020. However, this season sees a new-look Jets team under rookie head coach Robert Saleh and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.

The other two games come against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans. Both of those teams are huge unknowns heading into the season. The Texans’ situation could turn a number of ways under another rookie HC in David Culley. Meanwhile, the rookie pairing of Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence makes for a tough and intriguing matchup, Pro-football network wrote.

Total predicted wins for dolphins

Record prediction 2021: 11-6

The Dolphins have one of the youngest and most talented rosters in the league and added to their talent pool with Jaylen Waddle and Jaylen Phillips in the first round. Despite playing in the tough AFC East, the Dolphins’ schedule has been easier than expected. Not playing “cold-weather games” until Jan. 2 is a huge plus for Miami, especially with the development of Tua Tagovailoa. This is a playoff team with a chip on the shoulder, Oltnews noted.

Miami Dolphins Team History

The Miami Dolphins are a professional American football franchise based in the Miami metropolitan area. The Dolphins compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The Dolphins play their home games at Hard Rock Stadium in the northern suburb of Miami Gardens, Florida, and are headquartered in Davie, Florida. The Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons (who also began play in 1966) are the oldest NFL franchises in the Deep South, and Miami is the oldest AFC team in that region. However, of the four AFC East teams, they are the only team in the division that was not a charter member of the American Football League (AFL), according to Profootballhof.

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