Miami Dolphins 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

Scott AltmanCorrespondent IApril 17, 2012

Miami Dolphins 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

0 of 17

    The Miami Dolphins' 2012 schedule was released today, so now have something to keep us busy until the NFL draft rolls around next week. 

    It's premature to try and gauge the difficulty of Miami's schedule, but as of today, it looks manageable. The Dolphins play just four teams that made the playoffs last season, but their schedule is littered with teams on the cusp of contending for a spot. 

    Also, the Dolphins play just one prime time game—a Thursday night tilt with the Bills

    Here's an early breakdown of each game the 'Fins will play in 2012, complete with all of the analysis and predictions you need. While you're reading, please remember that everything is subject to change through the draft and the remainder of the offseason. 

Week 1: Miami Dolphins vs. Houston Texans

1 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Dolphins kick off the 2012 season against Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and the Houston Texans. On the heels of the first playoff victory in franchise history, the Texans have the talent to compete for a Super Bowl. Hence, this team poses serious problems for the 'Fins. 

    Houston's aerial attack should overwhelm Miami's shoddy secondary, and its dominant pass rush should overwhelm Miami's shoddy offensive line. 

    The Dolphins have never beaten the Texans, and they won't this year, either. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 13, Texans 28

Week 2: Oakland Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins

2 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS

    Following an opening week loss to the Texans, the Dolphins return to Miami for the home opener against the Oakland Raiders

    The Dolphins manhandled the Raiders in Week 13 last season, and Miami should escape with a win this time, too. Oakland's defense is abysmal, so it's vital that the Dolphins capitalize and score plenty. If Miami's front seven can contain Darren McFadden and avoid surrendering big plays to speedsters Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, then the 'Fins will win. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 24, Raiders 17

Week 3: New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins

3 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    Dysfunction and ineptitude currently define the Miami Dolphins. But at least we're not Jets fans, right?

    Gang Green finished the 2011 season on a tumultuous note. The Jets' season culminated in a Week 17—and playoff eliminating—loss to the Dolphins. Things have settled down in New York, but the team's roster looks the same. 

    Without Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins will have an extremely difficult time throwing the ball against Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Unless Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas thrive, Miami will struggle to topple a mediocre Jets team. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 13, Jets 17

Week 4: Miami Dolphins vs. Arizona Cardinals

4 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox

    The Cardinals capped off the 2011 season by winning seven of its last nine games. Whether Arizona can carry that momentum into next season remains to be seen. 

    Larry Fitzgerald alone could tilt this matchup in Arizona's favor. The Dolphins are severely thin at safety, and the Cardinals will try to expose that by sending Fitzgerald deep early and often. Arizona's young defense should make strides, and containing both Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells could prove overwhelming for Miami. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 24, Cardinals 28 

Week 5: Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinanti Bengals

5 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    Just because the Bengals made the playoffs last season doesn't mean they'll walk all over the Dolphins. 

    Andy Dalton and A.J. Green exceeded expectations in their rookie seasons, but Cincinnati is still lacking talent on offense. The team is searching for a legitimate starting running back, and, behind Green, its wide receiver corps is very thin. 

    The Bengals defense ranked seventh in the league last season, but that was a byproduct of a soft schedule. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 14, Bengals 13 

Week 6: St. Louis Rams vs. Miami Dolphins

6 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    When Jeff Fisher opted to become the St. Louis Rams in January, he left the Dolphins waiting at the alter. The 'Fins will get a chance to avenge that embarrassment when the Rams visit in Week 6. 

    The Rams won just two games last season, but the Dolphins can't take them lightly. Sam Bradford should rebound from his sophomore slump. If St. Louis drafts Justin Blackmon, it'll have a dangerous weapon that should improve the offense as a whole. 

    However, the Rams had the 31st ranked rushing defense in the NFL season. A healthy dose of Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and perhaps Steve Slaton should propel the 'Fins to a closer-than-expected win.

    Prediction: Dolphins 23, Rams 21  

Week 8: Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets

7 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Dolphins and Jets have split their season series in three of the last four seasons, but that trend will come to a depressing end this season.

    Unless Miami acquires or drafts a big-time wide receiver, New York can stack the box on virtually every play and thwart its offense. The Jets' offense won't score much either, but it'll post more points than the Dolphins' offense can. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 9, Jets 14

Week 9: Miami Dolphins vs. Indianapolis Colts

8 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    Following a major roster purge, the Colts are a semblance of a professional football team.

    Indianapolis is beginning a complete and total overhaul, and, well, there's just no reason to believe this team can beat the Dolphins. Andrew Luck, the presumed first overall pick, might be a generational prospect, but he won't lead this team anywhere until there's some talent around him. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 35, Colts 10

Week 10: Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins

9 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    On paper, the Tennessee Titans don't look like a scary team, but they finished last season just one win shy of a playoff berth. 

    Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt give the Titans two top-flight home run threats, and budding tight end Jared Cook could emerge as a stud this season. Tennessee shouldn't struggle to score against Miami's defense, and its pedestrian defense will do enough to keep the Dolphins down. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 17, Titans 21

Week 11: Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins

10 of 17

    Kickoff Time: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network 

    The Dolphins face Ryan Fitzpatrick and his mantastic beard in a prime time tilt against the Buffalo Bills.

    Unlike prior seasons, the Bills are now a formidable squad stocked with star power. The addition of Mario Williams propels Buffalo into playoff contention, and its defensive front poses major problems for the Dolphins' offense.

    Although the Dolphins have kept the Bills in check in recent years, Buffalo has finally become a better team. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 17, Bills 27

Week 12: Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami Dolphins

11 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    Matt Flynn reportedly wanted to sign with the Dolphins, but Joe Philbin doesn't believe it. If Flynn wins the starting quarterback job in Seattle, then the media will have fun with this game.

    Emotions aside, the only advantage the Dolphins have in this game is home field advantage. The Seahawks were 3-5 outside of Seattle last season, and trekking all the way down to Miami will be taxing on its players.

    However, the Seahawks started to peak late last season, and their underrated defense ranked ninth best in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch and Doug Baldwin will help deal the Dolphins a crushing loss. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 16, Seahawks 30 

Week 13: Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots

12 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    Barring major injuries to the Patriots, it's very, very difficult to envision the Dolphins winning this game. The Patriots offensive attack, specifically Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, will overwhelm the Dolphins just like it did last season. Once again, a thin secondary will undermine Miami. 

    Meanwhile, New England's defense hit rock bottom last season, so it has nowhere to go but up. Even if the offense clicks, the Dolphins don't have the firepower to outscore the Patriots. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 13, Patriots 34

Week 14: Miami Dolphins vs. San Francisco 49ers

13 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox

    Miami faces another Super Bowl favorite when they travel to San Francisco in Week 14. This is a brutal stretch of games that could ultimately knock the Dolphins out of playoff contention. 

    San Francisco has replenished its wide receiver corps this offseason, adding Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. These signings could elevate the 49ers' offense to a new level, and that's bad news for the Dolphins. 

    Even if the 49ers passing game continues to sputter, their defense will continue to win games. San Francisco's pass rush is virtually unstoppable, and Matt Moore will face intense pressure throughout the game. These teams are headed in different directions, and the one trending upwards will come away with the win. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 9, 49ers 24

Week 15: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins

14 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

    After five consecutive games against playoff contenders, the Dolphins face the Jacksonville Jaguars, which possess one of the league's worst offenses and one of its more underrated defenses. 

    There's a fairly good chance Chad Henne will start for Jacksonville, so there's no way the Dolphins can lose this game. It'd be another embarrassing blow to this franchise. But, if the Dolphins can contain Maurice Jones-Drew, then there's no reason they should lose to their in-state rival. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 14, Jaguars 10 

Week 16: Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

15 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    Up to this point, the Dolphins have been spared cold-weather games. But the 'Fins will likely face frigid temperatures when they hike up to Buffalo in late December. 

    Regardless of weather, the Bills are still a superior team that might be playing for a playoff berth at this juncture in the season. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 17, Bills 20 

Week 17: New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

16 of 17

    Kickoff Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    If Bill Belichick ever rested his starters, then the Dolphins might have a chance to win this game. The Patriots figure to have a playoff spot locked up, but Miami will still face Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and company for at least three quarters. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 20, Patriots 30 

Summary

17 of 17

    Like it or not, the Dolphins are rebuilding, and this season will reflect their current discourse. 

    Trading Brandon Marshall leaves the offense devoid of a wide receiver who can threaten defenses. The offensive line still needs work. Reggie Bush must stay healthy again. Matt Moore doesn't have enough talent at his disposal to lead this team anywhere. 

    Miami's run defense should easily rank amongst the league's best, but the safeties slated to start might be serious liabilities. Hopefully, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle can elevate their games like he did with the defensive backs he coached in Cincinnati. 

    Unless the Dolphins make any surprise moves, I think this team finishes in the same spot it did last year: 6-10.