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By the end of the day today, we will know not just the teams and locations of the Miami Dolphins’ opposition in 2021, but also the complete schedule. The league is releasing the complete schedule for the 2021 season this evening in a massive television event — exactly what you’d expect from the NFL, who has masterfully crafted year-round content despite being a seasonal sport.
But regardless of when the Dolphins play their opposition, we already know who the biggest tests are going to be. And for Miami, the 2021 litmus tests will serve as a major measuring stick of where the young Dolphins stack up to some of the best of the best across the NFL.
Who are Miami’s biggest tests scheduled for 2021? And how can Miami prove they stack up against contenders across the league? Here are our top three biggest challenges:
The last time the Dolphins played the Ravens (2019), Miami lost by 49 points. The time before that, in 2017, Miami lost by 40 points. And the time before that? Miami lost by 32 in 2016.
Aside of the fact that Miami has lost to Baltimore by a combined score of 137-16 over the last three contests between the two teams, Baltimore was also one of the teams that pushed Miami from the postseason last winter — and trying to measure up against perennial playoff participants is a good way to see how close to being one yourself.
Speaking of teams with success against Miami recently, the Bills have won the last 5 games against the Dolphins and seven of the last eight. The lone win? A 21-17 win in 2018 that came only because then-rookie QB Josh Allen hung a game-winning touchdown pass to Charles Clay short in the end zone in the final moments. Clay was wide open.
The Bills are going to be the team Miami has to make personnel decisions with in the back of their minds — this is a team that went 13-3 last season and has owned Miami. You’re not consistently making the playoffs (or dreaming of a home game in the postseason) unless you find a way to close the gap and play more competitive against the Bills.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As Ric Flair once said: “To be the man, you gotta beat the man!”
And for the Miami Dolphins, 2021 affords them a matchup with “the man” for the second consecutive season. Miami gave Kansas City a tough game in December of this past year but ultimately fell short of what would have been a critical late-season win. This time around, Miami must travel to Raymond James Stadium to face the defending Super Bowl champions.
It doesn’t get any bigger than that.