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The Miami Dolphins are looking to get a fast start to the 2017 season, which will be important if they want to make their first back-to-back playoff appearance since 2000-2001 while playing the sixth strongest schedule this year.

Second year head coach Adam Gase will look to improve on what was arguably Ryan Tannehill’s best year of his career (with a quarterback rating of 93.5) once he’s fully recovered and continue the momentum he created with a 10 win season in 2016. However, Gase also has Jay Cutler as his QB2 and many see little difference between Tannehill and Cutler in terms of talent and ability. Gase will also have to get his team off to a fast start because there is no room to wait to perform down the stretch with such a difficult schedule.

While Gase took advantage of the NFL’s weakest schedule last year to win 10 games starting in week 5, he does not have that luxury this year. The Dolphins have one of the toughest schedules of the season, playing playoff teams from last year including the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and facing reigning Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots, twice.

What’s more, Miami’s season is already off to a rough start with Hurricane Irma forcing the League to move its first season opener at home since 2014 to a neutral site or postpone it. If the game is postponed, Miami would likely lose its bye week in Week 11. The loss of a bye week could deprive Miami of a much-needed break down the stretch and jeopardize its chances of making the playoffs.

Miami has improved significantly in the last year and they definitely have strong momentum coming into the 2017-18 season, but given their difficult schedule and the potential for a lost bye week, they will likely miss the playoffs by a couple of games, going 8-8 on the season. Here is a breakdown of the 2017 season.

Miami Dolphins Miss Playoffs

Week 1 (09/10) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Miami was supposed to play its first season opener at home since 2014 on Sunday, but with Hurricane Irma barreling toward Florida, the League has decided to reschedule it for Week 11 during both teams’ bye. (See Week 11)

Week 2 (09/17) @ Los Angeles Chargers

Coming off an adverse situation with Mother Nature, the Dolphins should be hungry to face the Chargers. Combine that with their 2-1 advantage against the Chargers and it looks like the Fins will pick up their first road win. DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Jarvis Landry will pose matchup problems for the Chargers like they did last year and will look to make big plays to push their team to a victory.

Result: Win 24-20

Week 3 (09/24) @ New York Jets

The Dolphins swept the Jets last year and will look to repeat that success this year. They have to if they want to keep their season alive and get off to that fast start Coach Gase keeps emphasizing. The Jets have been historically bad, and the Dolphins had great success against them last year so it’s hard to see how this game goes sideways for the Fins. Jay Ajayi has also had great success against the Jets, and the Fins know how to pressure the team’s quarterbacks to make them scramble and rush the ball out of the pocket, resulting in a road win for Miami.

Result: Win 31-7

Week 4 (10/01) vs. New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium, London

Trips abroad have not been kind to the Dolphins and this will be no different, especially with Drew Brees on the other side of the ball. The Saints revamped defense will likely shut down Miami’s run game, seeing as they’ve only given up 194 rushing yards in their three preseason games. Miami’s chances of being successful against such a strong defensive corps backed up by the talented offense with Brees at the helm are slim. Miami will continue its streak of bad luck in London.

Result: Loss 40-20

Week 5 (10/08) vs. Tennessee Titans

The Dolphins will return home from London jet lagged and beat up after their run in with the Saints defense. Playing the NFL’s most improved team after a trip across the pond will be difficult and Miami won’t have the legs to go the distance in this one.

Result: Loss 21-13

Miami Dolphins 2017 Season Simulation

Hard Rock Stadium In Miami Florida. Photo Credit: JC Ruiz – Under Creative Commons License

Week 6 (10/15) @ Atlanta Falcons

Fresh off of the worst meltdown in Super Bowl history, the Falcons will need to regroup as they head into the 2017 season. The Falcons will have to find ways to contain Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh and beat the pressure Miami will put on Matt Ryan if they want to win this game. Devonta Freeman also looked the part of the highest paid running back in the league during the preseason meeting of these teams, so expect that to be multiplied tenfold for a game that actually matters. The Dolphins will fall to the Falcons in this one.

Result: Loss 24-20

Week 7 (10/22) vs. New York Jets

The Jets usually don’t improve as the season moves along, and if they do, their progress takes them from poor to mediocre at best. Don’t expect the Jets to make much noise as they travel to Miami for this conference matchup. The Dolphins will win this one handily on their home field.

Result: Win 30-10

Week 8 (10/26) @ Baltimore Ravens

It seems the Dolphins play the Ravens every year these days. Going back to 2005, the Ravens hold a 7-2 advantage over the Dolphins and will likely make it 8-2 when this game is over. The Ravens have reinvigorated their offense, signing Jeremy Maclin to a two-year deal and shoring up their offensive line with a new blocking scheme. The Ravens look to be a deceptively explosive offensive team that will be hard for Miami to contain, especially on short rest.

Result: Loss 24-13

Week 9 (11/05) vs. Oakland Raiders

The Dolphins will have 10 days to prepare for this game, and they will need it. The Fins’ 30th ranked run defense will run into problems against Oakland’s efficient rushing offense. The Raiders can also exploit Miami’s secondary, giving the Dolphins a difficult game to win.

Result: Loss 33-30

Week 10 (11/13) @ Carolina Panthers

Miami matches up well against the Panthers and their three-receiver sets should prove problematic for Carolina. This game will also be a must-win for Miami before they enter the most difficult stretch of their season.

Result: Win 24-21

Week 11 (11/19) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Both the Bucs and the Dolphins have lost their bye weeks due to the rescheduling of their season opener in the face of Hurricane Irma. The players will not be happy about this since it means 16 straight weeks of football. This matchup may come down to who is healthiest at this point in the season and who needs a win more. Give the edge to Miami though, since it’s a home game and another one they must win before they play the Patriots twice in 16 days.

Result: Win 28-21

Week 12 (11/26) @ New England Patriots

The Dolphins enter their toughest challenge of the season in playing the Patriots on the road. The Patriots led by Tom Brady will overwhelm the Dolphins, barring any major injuries for the Pats. Expect the Dolphins to do their best, but come up far short of what it will take to dethrone the Pats.

Result: Loss 40-21

Week 13 (12/3) vs. Denver Broncos

This will be an emotionally charged game as the Dolphins face their old defensive coordinator Vance Joseph in his new role as head coach of the Broncos. Miami’s familiarity with Vance’s system may give them the edge, but they will start feeling the effects of losing their bye week making this game a much tougher match up than it would have been previously. Still, give the edge to Miami as this is another must win if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Result: Win 21-18

Week 14 (12/11) vs. New England Patriots

The only danger in this game for the Patriots is the threat of sun burn as Brady rolls over the Dolphins on their home field. The Dolphins will be facing the Patriots for the second time in 16 days and without any bye week rest. That combined with the fact that the Dolphins defense and secondary can’t keep up with the Pats’ offense does not bode well for this game.

Result: Loss 34-13

Week 15 (12/17) @ Buffalo Bills

After playing an insane stretch, the Dolphins will look to earn an easier win against the Bills. The Bills are rebuilding and not likely to pose a huge threat to Miami. Miami keeps its season alive for now.

Result: Win 30-17

Week 16 (12/24) @ Kansas City Chiefs

There will be no playoffs for Christmas in Miami. This game against another playoff team from 2016 will be the lump of coal in fans’ stockings this year as the Fins’ narrowly miss the playoffs. The Chiefs return their entire offensive line, which was ranked 14th in the NFL last year. This will make it hard for Miami’s defense to be effective and lead to a devastating loss.

Result: Loss 24-17

Week 17 (12/31) vs. Buffalo Bills

The Dolphins will play for pride and resolve to do better next season in this New Year’s Eve matchup. The Bills won’t have gotten much better in the two weeks between this game and their last meeting with Miami, so expecting a similar result as Week 15 is a safe bet.

Result: Win 28-10

2017 Season Results: 8-8

Finishing 8-8 will be a disappointment for a Miami team on the rise, but recognizing that they played one of the hardest schedules in the NFL will take the sting out of their record. Playing against better competition will make the Dolphins better in the long run. Expect Miami to be in the conversation for a playoff spot in 2018.

Rachel Bleier

Author Rachel Bleier

Sports writer and dedicated fan with strong opinions and an even deeper knowledge of sports to back them up. Rachel has been writing for Sports Al Dente since 2017, and is currently a contributor covering the NFC East.

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