The Miami Dolphins were quite the surprise in 2016, winning 10 games and reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008. While new head coach Adam Gase and company deserve a ton of credit for the turnaround, the Dolphins played a relatively weak schedule.
En route to a 10-6 finish, the Dolphins defeated just one playoff team. After playing a last place schedule, Miami will play a second-place schedule in 2017.
The slate includes two games against each team in its division, four games against the AFC West and NFC South and games against the two other teams in the AFC who finished in second place. Here’s an early look at the Dolphins’ slate:
All-time series: Dolphins lead 60-45-1
In Miami: 34-18-1
In Buffalo: 26-27
Recent trends: After dropping both contests in 2015, the Dolphins swept the Bills this past season for the first time since 2011. Both victories came by three points with the final one being a dramatic 34-31 overtime win in Buffalo in Week 16. The teams will meet twice in 2017.
New England Patriots
All-time series: Dolphins lead 53-50
In Miami: 36-16
In New England: 17-34
Recent trends: Despite the Patriots having won 15 of the last 16 division titles, New England swept Miami for the first time since 2012 this past season. The Dolphins had won three straight in South Florida. The Dolphins haven’t won in Foxboro since 2008. As always, the teams will meet twice in 2017.
New York Jets
All-time series: Jets lead 53-49-1
In Miami: 26-25-1
In New York: 23-28
Recent trends: After being swept in 2015, the Dolphins swept the New York Jets for the first time since 2009 last season. In recent years, Miami has been better against the Jets in the Meadowlands than in South Florida. Miami is 7-2 in its last nine games at New York, but just 3-6 in the last nine at home.
AFC West Foes
All-time series: Dolphins lead 11-6-1
In Miami: 7-1
Recent trends: Miami will host Denver this season. The Dolphins are 7-1 all-time at home against Denver with the lone loss being a Tim Tebow-led comeback in 2011. The Broncos have won the last two in the series.
Kansas City Chiefs
All-time series: Dolphins lead 16-13
In Kansas City: 5-6
Recent trends: Miami will have to travel this season to Arrowhead Stadium to face defending AFC West champion Kansas City. The visiting team has won four of the last five in the series. The Dolphins have won in each of their last two visits to Kansas City. The last Chiefs’ home victory in the series came in 2002.
Los Angeles Chargers
All-time series: Dolphins lead 17-15
In San Diego: 7-11
Recent trends: For a second straight year, the Dolphins will be facing a newly relocated team in Los Angeles. Miami beat the Chargers last season 31-24, thanks to a late interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Kiko Alonso. Prior to last year’s contest, the home team had won the last six in the series.
All-time series: Raiders lead 19-17-1
In Miami: 10-8-1
Recent trends: In a match-up of wild card teams who made the playoffs for the first time this decade this past season, the Dolphins will play host to the Oakland Raiders. Miami has won five straight in the series with four of those victories coming by at least 16 points. The last Oakland win in the series came in Miami in 2007.
Other Second-Place AFC Finishers
All-time series: Ravens lead 8-6
In Baltimore: 3-1
Recent trends: The Ravens handed the Dolphins their worst loss of the season last year, winning 38-6 in Baltimore. The Ravens have won six of seven in the series. The lone Miami victory in Baltimore over the Ravens came in the first meeting between the teams in 1997.
All-time series: Dolphins lead 19-17
In Miami: 11-9
Recent trends: The Tennessee Titans were one of just two teams to win in South Florida last season. The road team has won the last three in the series. The last Miami home victory in the series came in 2010.
All-time series: Dolphins lead 8-4
In Atlanta: 2-2
Recent trends: Miami will play three games against last season’s Super Bowl teams in 2017, including a trip to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. The home team has won six of the last seven in the series dating back to 1992. The last Miami victory in Atlanta however, came in 1980.
All-time series: Dolphins lead 4-1
In Charlotte: 2-0
Recent trends: Cam Newton threw a late touchdown pass to rally the Panthers in their last trip to Miami. The Dolphins had won the previous four before that and have won each of the previous two meetings Charlotte. Four of the previous five meetings have been decided by seven points or less.
New Orleans Saints
All-time series: Dolphins lead 6-5
Recent trends: Since this game is being played in London as a Dolphins’ home game, it didn’t seem right to adequately list what the series was in Miami. Overall however, the Saints have won the last two. The last time the teams played at a location other than Miami or New Orleans was in 2005 when the Dolphins beat the Saints in Baton Rogue. In London, Miami is 1-2. The Saints are 1-0. This year’s contest will be played on Oct. 1.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
All-time series: Tied 5-5
In Miami: 3-1
Recent trends: Tampa Bay has won four of the last five in the series, but the Dolphins did win the last contest in South Florida. That’s where this year’s meeting will be. Three of the last four meetings have been decided by three points or less.
Mike Ferguson is a sports writer and reporter for several publications and the Pro Football Spot lead writer for the Miami Dolphins. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson