Dolphins get their most prime time games in 20 years. What to know about the full schedule

Two immediate takeaways from the Dolphins’ schedule that became official on Wednesday night and has Miami opening at home on Sept. 8 against Jacksonville:

▪ The Dolphins have become a network television darling, more so than at any time in nearly two decades.

▪ They better build another cushion, like they did last year, because their final six weeks of the season are filled with potential landmines.

On the television front, Miami received five prime-time games, its most pre-assigned in a season since 2004, when they also had five night games but went 4-12 under Dave Wannstedt and mid-season replacement Jim Bates, following the stunning July retirement of star running back Ricky Williams.

In 2023, the Dolphins had three prime-time games assigned to them before the season and a fourth (Buffalo) was added as a ‘flexed’ game for Week 18.

This time around, Miami was given prime-time games against Buffalo at Hard Rock Stadium in Week 2, on a Thursday night, on Amazon; home against Tennessee in Week 4 on Monday Night Football on ESPN; at the Rams in Week 10 on Monday Night Football on ESPN; at the Packers in Week 13 on Thanksgiving night on NBC; and at Cleveland in Week 17 on Sunday Night Football on NBC.

Of those five games, the Browns game is the only one subject to flex scheduling and could be moved out of prime time if one or both of the two teams is out of contention in mid-December.

The Week 2 Bills game will be televised on “free television” only in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Buffalo markets, and only on Amazon’s streaming service in the remainder of the country.

The Titans and Rams games on ESPN also will be televised on a “free television” station in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Just like last December, Titans at Dolphins is scheduled for one of those Monday nights that ABC is airing an NFL game opposite an NFL game on ESPN. Titans-Dolphins is the 7:30 p.m. ESPN game on that Sept. 30. ABC gets Seattle-Detroit at 8:15 that night.

Those are the only five Dolphins games that will be televised in the entire country by a national network or streaming service. All of the others will be regionally televised, with network maps determined six games before kickoff. All of the Dolphins’ CBS and Fox games can be seen anywhere in the country by purchasing “Sunday Ticket” through YouTube TV.

The prime time exposure is something for Dolphins fans to feel good about.

But there’s also this reality to feel somewhat concerned about:

The Dolphins might need a scintillating start similar to last season – when they opened 9-3 – to give themselves a sufficient cushion to survive a perilous December/January schedule that includes Week 17 and 18 cold-weather games in Cleveland and at the Jets, and December games against playoff teams Houston (in Texas in Week 15) and San Francisco (at Hard Rock Stadium in Week 16).

The difficult stretch actually begins on Thanksgiving night in Green Bay and continues the next week at home against the Jets, who should be improved if Aaron Rodgers stays ambulatory. Then comes the difficult final four at Houston, home to San Francisco, at Cleveland and at the Jets in the regular-season finale.

There are seemingly some soft spots on the schedule, too, in terms of opponents without high-end quarterbacks.

Miami plays at New England in Week 5, then has a bye, then plays at the Colts in Week 7. The Dolphins face a good quarterback (Kyler Murray) but a bad team when Arizona visits in Week 8. There’s another potential soft spot a few weeks later: at home against the Raiders in Week 11 and home against the Patriots in Week 12.

But in between those two “soft spots” are difficult games at the Bills and at the Rams.

Excluding the prime time games, all other Dolphins games will be played at 1 p.m. except a 4:05 p.m. Week 3 game in Seattle and the 4:25 p.m. Week 16 game against the 49ers, which likely will be televised in a large part of the country by CBS.

The Dolphins, like all AFC teams this season, have eight home games and nine road games.

The Dolphins have the NFL’s eight easiest schedule, according to Sharp Football Analysis, which bases that on its projected win totals for each team.

Miami plays seven games against teams that made the postseason in 2023. Four other games are against opponents that played nearly all of 2023 without their starting quarterback (the Jets) or much of 2023 without their starting QB (Arizona and Cleveland).

Also announced on Wednesday night: the Dolphins’ preseason schedule, which includes a home game against Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 9, a home game against Washington on Saturday, Aug. 17 and at Tampa Bay on Friday, Aug. 23. The two home games are 7 p.m. starts, and the game in Tampa Bay kicks off at 7:30. All will be televised locally by CBS-4.

The Dolphins are coming off an 11-6 season which ended with a 26-7 wild-card playoff loss in Kansas City.

Miami has the NFL’s longest ongoing drought with a playoff victory; its last playoff win was Dec. 30, 2000 against the Colts.

Here’s the full Dolphins 2024 schedule:

Week 1 (Sept. 8): Home against Jacksonville (1 p.m., CBS).

Week 2 (Sept. 12): Home against Buffalo on Thursday Night Football (8:15 p.m., Amazon Prime and an undetermined Miami-Fort Lauderdale television station).

Week 3 (Sept. 22): At Seattle (4:05 p.m., CBS).

Week 4 (Sept. 30): Home against Tennessee on Monday Night Football (7:30 p.m., ESPN and an undetermined Miami-Fort Lauderdale television station).

Week 5 (Oct. 6): At New England (1 p.m., Fox).

Week 6: OFF.

Week 7 (Oct. 20): At Indianapolis (1 p.m., Fox).

Week 8 (Oct. 27): Home against Arizona (1 p.m., Fox).

Week 9 (Nov. 3): At Buffalo (1 p.m., CBS).

Week 10 (Nov. 11): At Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m., ESPN and an undetermined Miami-Fort Lauderdale television station).

Week 11 (Nov. 17): Home against the Raiders (1 p.m., CBS).

Week 12 (Nov. 24): Home against the Patriots (1 p.m., CBS).

Week 13 (Nov. 28): At Green Bay on Thanksgiving night (8:20 p.m., NBC).

Week 14 (Dec. 8): Home against the Jets (1 p.m., CBS).

Week 15 (Dec. 15): At Houston (1 p.m., CBS).

Week 16 (Dec. 22): Home against San Francisco (4:25 p.m., CBS)

Week 17 (Dec. 29): At Cleveland on Sunday Night Football (8:20 p.m., NBC).

Week 18 (Jan. 4 or 5): At the Jets. Times for all Week 18 games are determined late in the season.