The NFL schedule is developed in such a way to ensure no team is given an advantage over another team. Apparently, that does not mean the schedule makers won't give a disadvantage to a team. In 2013, the Miami Dolphins get handed that disadvantage early in the season.
The Dolphins have a natural home field advantage with their afternoon heat in Sun Life Stadium wearing down visiting opponents. It offsets the cold, winter disadvantage the has when it leaves Miami in December for games in places like Buffalo and New York. Except, this year, Miami only plays one September game at home, Week 3 when the host the Atlanta Falcons.
The rest of September features Miami opening the season on the road in Weeks 1 (at Cleveland Browns) and 2 (at Indianapolis Colts). Then, after the Falcons game, the Dolphins travel again in Week 4 to the New Orleans Saints.
When the Dolphins return home in Week 5, they are rewarded with a visit from the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, before heading into the bye week.
Miami has a tough start to the season this year. Of course, knocking out three away games in the first four weeks means the team only has five road trips remaining over the final 13 weeks, but it doesn't lend itself to the team getting off to a quick start.
And that quick start is what the Dolphins will need to convince fans that all of the free agency signings this offseason was not a waste.
In the end, the Dolphins' schedule will even out over the course of the season, and there will not be much about which to complain, but it really is a rough five week start to the season.