The Miami Dolphins are preparing to face the Washington Redskins in a NFL Week 1 contest to open the 2015 season. As they continue to look toward that game, we will take the time to look at the full schedule for this Dolphins this year, using SB Nation's 2015 NFL Power Rankings to look at each game.
Below you will find the schedule, ordered by highest ranked team Miami will face to lowest ranked teams. You will also find the average ranking for the Dolphins' opponents, as well as the Dolphins' rank.
Dolphins 2015 Preseason Power Ranking: 16th
The group of teams from Nos. 15 to 25 all feel like they could go either way this year. The Chargers, Dolphins, Saints, Panthers and Falcons all have established or up-and-coming quarterbacks, but questions of balance and depth remain.
Dolphins opponent power rankings:
@ New England Patriots
vs. New England Patriots
It's really not that surprising that the Patriots sit atop the depth chart among Dolphins opponents for this year. The reigning Super Bowl champs have splt the season series with Miami the last couple of years, and the Dolphins will be looking to at least continue that trend this year. Miami has half a season, basically, to get ready for New England, then the second half of the season will play out before facing them again.
vs. Indianapolis Colts
A matchup of two top ten quarterbacks from the 2012 Draft class, Ryan Tannehill will host Andrew Luck late in the season. The good thing for Miami is the game is in South Florida. The bad news is, the Colts should be rounding into Playoff form. Do not be surprised if, by Week 16, the Colts' ranking is even higher.
@ Philadelphia Eagles
The Dolphins play four teams in SB Nation's Preseason power rankings, with none of them before Week 8. That's a great advantage for Miami, who will hope to jump out to a big lead and then battle their way through the second half of the season. Facing the Eagles in Philadelphia will be a tough game for Miami, especially if Sam BRadford is still healthy and has had nine more weeks to settle into the offense.
vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens make the fourth top ten team the Dolphins will face this year. Baltimore is always a tough matchup for Miami, and come Week 13, they should be in a fight for the AFC North competition or positioning themselves for a Wildcard spot. Whichever scenario plays out, the Dolphins will be facing a tough team, even if they have moved up or down the rankings by then.
vs. Dallas Cowboys
The first not top ten team the Dolphins face is, of course, the 11th ranked team. The Cowboys will be an interesting team to watch this year, with the potential to dominate, but they are not a sure thing this year. The Dolphins and Cowboys always seem to play entertaining games, though the Cowboys have won the last two contests and four of the last five. Miami will need to end that run.
@ San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are 15th to the Dolphins' 16th ranking. They probably both will not be sitting in those ranks by Week 15, but they are two teams that should be right in the middle of the AFC Wildcard battle this year. This year's game is, unfortunately, a contest in San Diego, instead of being a guaranteed Miami win by being in South Florida (San Diego last won in Miami in 1982, a span of eight games). A tangle of AFC teams right in the middle of the pack is not a good thing for Miami, who will need to pull themselves ahead of the group this year.
Miami's bye week, symbollically placed here at the spot where Miami's 16th ranking would place them in our lineup, comes early again this year. The good news is, it should give Miami a chance monitor the returns of players like Branden Albert and DeVante Parker, with a week's rest scheduled during their returns to the field, but it also means the team will not get a chance to rest any injuries they suffer through the final 12 weeks of the year.
vs. Houston Texans
The Texans could have a good year, or they could completely fall apart. I think they will be pretty good this season, so they are probably another team Miami will have to contend with for a Wildcard berth. That said, Miami has never beaten Houston. It is a streak that has to end.
vs. Buffalo Bills
@ Buffalo Bills
There are a lot of people who are high on the Bills this year, even if their Preseason ranking does not show it. Buffalo finished ahead of Miami in the final standings last year, so Miami has to pass them if they are going to make it to the Playoffs. The good news is, Miami's one game in Sun Life Stadium in the first six weeks of the season is against an AFC East team, coming down to the South Florida heat. The even better news might be that the return trip to Buffalo is only in Week 9, which is early November, so Miami may miss the winter snow.
vs. New York Giants
The Giants start a swing of teams in the bottom nine of the rankings to offset the run through the top ten. It is interesting that the majority of the Miami top-ten opponents are late in the season, while the bottom group is primarily early in the year. The Giants (and one Jets game) breaks that trend, but it should still be enough to help Miami get moving in the right direction. As for the Giants themselves, with Eli Manning at the helm, they could burst into the Super Bowl champion Giants, or they could stay down near the bottom of the league all season. Who knows where they will be by Week 14.
vs. New York Jets (London)
@ New York Jets
The Jets' defense will have to carry they team this season, but it will all come down to the quarterback situation. Ryan Fitzpatrick will start the season, and could hold on to the starting job even when Geno Smith returns from his broken jaw. Bryce Petty is in the mix somewhere, and could see playing time if the season completely falls apart. The Jets climbing into Wildcard contention would not be a shock, but does not seem likely at this point.
@ Jacksonville Jaguars
Personally, I think the Jaguars are better than the 29th spot (I voted for them in the 25th spot in the bloggers rankings), but they are not going to be tearing up the league either. Getting Jacksonville in Week 2 should help Miami get off to a winning streak.
@ Washington Redskins
In order for the Dolphins to have a winning streak in Week 2, they have to win in Week 1. The Redskins are a mess at this point, though they do have some talent and could surprise if they are able to put it together. Kirk Cousins will start at quarterback, but he may be worrying more for his life than where he has to throw the ball behind a questionable (at best) offensive line. A win in Washington gets Miami started off on the right foot.
@ Tennessee Titans
I really am surprised that the Titans came in as the last ranked team this year. I do think Miami can continue their hot start for the year with a win over the Titans, but if they are still ranked as the last team in the league by Week 6, I will be shocked.
Dolphins average opponent ranking:
The Dolphins's average opponent ranking comes in just over a spot behind them in the SB Nation Preseason Power Rankings. That's a good sign, as the Dolphins should, theoretically, be able to win several of their games over poorly ranked teams. How everything shakes out will, of course, have to be seen, but at least early in the season, Miami appears to have a big advantage over several of the teams on their schedule.