After a busy free agency and a much quieter draft, the 2022 Miami Dolphins are beginning to take shape. New head coach Mike McDaniel will look to lead the Dolphins to their first playoff birth since 2016. Doing so will not be easy, as Miami has the 14th hardest schedule, based on projected win totals. This includes a brutal six-game (four of which will be on the road) stretch to end the season, featuring five teams who finished last year with a winning record.
Let’s preview Miami’s 2022 schedule and project each game’s score.
Week 1: vs. New England
The Dolphins did something last season that they had not accomplished since 2000: they swept the New England Patriots. In Weeks 1 and 18, Miami defeated its AFC East rival.
The two teams will battle it out in Week 1 yet again, making it the third straight year these foes have opened their respective seasons against each other. New England will enter its 2022 slate with a new play-caller for the first time since 2011, as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was hired to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in the offseason.
It is unclear yet who will be calling the plays for the Patriots in 2022, and that ambiguity has me hesitant to predict a win for them in their season opener.
Dolphins 23, Patriots 14 (1-0)
Week 2: @ Baltimore
Miami’s first road matchup of the 2022 season will be against the Baltimore Ravens, a team that the Dolphins defeated a year ago, sparking their seven-game win streak.
The makeup of this Ravens team will be different than the one that Miami beat last November, as running backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins, who both suffered ACL injuries that derailed their 2021 campaigns, are on their way to making full recoveries.
The Dolphins could and should hold their own against the Ravens, but considering the game will be played in Baltimore, where Miami has not won since 1997 (0-4 since then), a first loss of the season seems likely.
Dolphins 16, Ravens 19 (1-1)
Week 3: vs. Buffalo
In the Brian Flores-era in Miami, the Buffalo Bills demolished the Dolphins, going undefeated in six matchups and winning each game by an average of 18 points.
A coaching change for Miami figures to bring new life into this biannual matchup, and if the Dolphins can alleviate Buffalo’s ferocious pass-rush by unlocking the run game early, Miami has a good shot at beating the Bills for the first time since 2018.
Dolphins 26, Bills 20 (2-1)
Week 4: @ Cincinnati
Joe Burrow versus Tua Tagovailoa.
This Thursday Night Football matchup features the two highest-picked quarterbacks of the 2020 NFL Draft, and while Burrow has undoubtedly had a much better professional career up to this point, I expect Tagovailoa to find success against a Cincinnati Bengals secondary that ranked 24th in passing DVOA last season.
Ultimately, however, I trust Burrow to eke out a narrow win at home in what should be a high-scoring contest.
Dolphins 27, Bengals 31 (2-2)
Week 5: @ New York
The New York Jets got better this offseason. They strengthened what could be one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, added new weaponry to aid second-year quarterback Zach Wilson and added high-ceiling defensive talent in the draft.
While I expect the Jets to improve this season, especially on offense, I just have way too many questions about the experience and overall talent level on defense to pick them against a team with more established impact players like the Dolphins.
Dolphins 30, Jets 20 (3-2)
Week 6: vs. Minnesota
Every team in the NFL has at least one “stinker” game per season.
Not every loss is necessarily a stinker; even a win could fall under this category. I think this could be that game for the Dolphins.
I have questions about Miami’s linebackers and their ability to consistently stop the run heading into this season, and the Minnesota Vikings, who feature star back Dalvin Cook (who will be making his return to South Florida, where he grew up), present the Dolphins with a tough matchup.
Dolphins 17, Vikings 27 (3-3)
Week 7: vs. Pittsburgh
Sunday Night Football is back in Miami (Gardens) after a three-season absence!
The Pittsburgh Steelers stroll into Miami Gardens with expected quarterback questions. Pittsburgh added former Bears and Bills quarterback Mitch Trubisky and then selected University of Pittsburgh gunslinger Kenny Pickett with the No. 20 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Steelers have a talented roster, but doubts about their quarterback position do not have me confident to pick them in this primetime contest. I think the Dolphins rebound here after a letdown performance against the Vikings in Week 6.
Dolphins 24, Steelers 16 (4-3)
Week 8: @ Detroit
I really liked what the Detroit Lions did this offseason, especially at wide receiver.
After Amon-Ra St. Brown put together one of the more underrated seasons for a wide out last year, adding former Jaguar D.J. Chark through free agency and Alabama receiver Jameson Williams through the draft gives the Lions a dangerous trio of young talent at the position.
My biggest question, however, lies at quarterback, where former Ram Jared Goff is expected to start for the second consecutive season. Until the Lions upgrade at this position and throughout their defense as a whole, I don’t think head coach Dan Campbell’s squad will win more than six games, including its contest against a more talented Dolphins team.
Dolphins 27, Lions 13 (5-3)
Week 9: @ Chicago
Aside from their Day 2 of the NFL Draft, I didn’t particularly love the offseason that the Chicago Bears had.
Chicago’s offense as a whole still feels very void of talent. I think the unit could be better than expected, however, due to expected second-year improvement from quarterback Justin Fields (who I like), and the acquisition of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy (who I really like).
I’m predicting a Dolphins win, but I think the Bears could keep it interesting.
Dolphins 28, Bears 21 (6-3)
Week 10: vs Cleveland
The circumstances surrounding this game, at least from the time of this article’s publication, are very dicey.
For the Cleveland Browns, quarterback Deshaun Watson’s status for the game is unclear, but for the purpose of the score prediction, I will assume that he’s playing.
I think this could be Tua Tagovailoa’s most defining game yet as quarterback of the Dolphins. A shoot-out win here would help silence some of Tagovailoa’s critics who claim that the third-year signal caller gets carried to victory by his defense.
Dolphins 34, Browns 31 (7-3)
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: vs Houston
The Houston Texans had a mixed-bag of an offseason. I didn’t like the decision to go in-house with the hiring of head coach Lovie Smith, but I loved the selection of cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. with the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft.
I think Stingley could be the best player to come out of this draft class when it’s all said and done. I also like how Houston is giving quarterback Davis Mills a chance to flourish this season; he really started to come on at the end of last year.
The Dolphins should have enough firepower offensively to overcome the Texans in what should be a matchup of two teams headed in opposite directions record-wise.
Dolphins 20, Texans: 9 (8-3)
Week 13: @ San Francisco
The Dolphins are on a five-game win streak at this point and possibly near the top of the AFC standings.
Unfortunately for them, I think the streak ends at five, as Miami will have to face off against a tough San Francisco 49ers team following a relatively comfortable home win against the Texans.
I am intrigued to see how McDaniel will fare against the 49ers, a team that the Yale graduate coached for from 2017–21.
Dolphins 21, 49ers 27 (8-4)
Week 14: @ Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Chargers had an active offseason.
In trading for outside linebacker Khalil Mack and acquiring cornerback J.C. Jackson, the Chargers are entering their win-now window with star quarterback Justin Herbert entering his third season.
I think the Dolphins keep this game competitive, but Los Angeles just has too much star power on both sides of the ball for Miami to overcome.
Dolphins 30, Chargers 37 (8-5)
Week 15: @ Buffalo
Beating the Bills twice in a season is hard.
Doing so a second time at Highmark Stadium in front of the “Bills Mafia” is even harder.
Dolphins 16, Bills 27 (8-6)
Week 16: vs Green Bay
The Dolphins enter this Christmas Day matchup against the Green Bay Packers in need of a win. Losers of three straight, Miami needs a win to establish itself as a playoff contender in what should be a crowded AFC.
I think Miami gets that win against a Super Bowl contender in Green Bay, which would be the first time that the Dolphins have defeated the Packers since 2010.
Dolphins 29, Packers 23 (9-6)
Week 17: @ New England
Tua Tagovailoa eventually has to lose to the Patriots.
I think this loss comes here against a New England team that could be fighting for its playoff life.
Frigid temperatures are expected in a late-December game in Foxborough, Mass., and I find it difficult predicting Miami to have success in these conditions.
Dolphins 14, Patriots 22 (9-7)
Week 18: vs New York
There are some similarities to be drawn here to the end of the 2013 season.
The 2013 Dolphins, entering Week 16 with a record of 8-6 and only in need of one win to punch their ticket to the playoffs, collapsed. That team lost in the final two weeks of the season, including in Week 17 at home against the Jets.
I expect the Jets to enter this Week 18 matchup playing some of the best football they have played in years, as all the young talent on the team should start to gel by that point.
New York should give Miami all it can handle, but I think the Dolphins will be able to do just enough to edge out their AFC East rival and punch their ticket to the NFL Playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season.
(F/OT) Dolphins 30, New York 27 (10-7)