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One look at the Miami Dolphins’ 2021 schedule and it becomes apparent rather quickly that this team is going to have to be ready to start fast. Miami’s first five games of the season include a revamped division rival in New England, a 13-win Bills team that brought everyone back from last year, a west coast road trip, an 11-win Colts team from 2020 and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Given the Dolphins’ typical slow starts under Brian Flores (they’re 1-7 in their first four games of the season under his direction), there’s a lot of pressure coming into 2021 to avoid the same slow start. And while slow starts are understandable when factoring in all of the new players Miami has onboarded in each of the last two seasons, the increased stability of the starting lineup that comes with Miami’s youth movement is going to have to be ready to show up in a big way if the Dolphins are going to come out of the other side of that first five game gauntlet before they pack their backs and fly to London to play the Jaguars.
But once you get past Miami’s first five game block, the perceived strength of the Dolphins’ schedule softens considerably. Regardless of how you’d prefer to perceive ‘Strength of Schedule’ (SOS), Miami currently sits on the favorable side of the fence.
If you’d like your SOS to be rooted in 2020 performances, the Dolphins’ opponents have a win-loss record that’s tied for the fifth-softest in football.
But 2020 was last year — and if you’re skeptical in the value of weighing the difficulty of this year’s teams by last year’s records, it would be completely understandable. And according to a number of resources, Miami’s 2021 schedule still holds up as one of the more forgiving ones from top to bottom.
Warren Sharp of Sharp Football has win projections for all 32 franchises this upcoming season. And he’s used them to calculate the 2021 strength of schedule based on those projections. Miami here? They’re the 4th softest schedule in football:
The opening stretch will be extremely difficult. But no matter what standard you choose to hold the rest of the schedule to for Miami, they’ll have every opportunity to make noise deep into the regular season and, hopefully, beyond.