Andy Cohen: Finally, A Favorable December

Posted Apr 19, 2013

The Dolphins get both the Patriots and Jets at home in December, a nice change that could prove important

Love the day the NFL schedule comes out each year. It brings a true sense of reality to the upcoming season. Before this we just knew the opponents. Now we know the dates, which really brings the games to life.

We can circle the games on our calendar. We can think about weather factors and tough stretches of road games and planning around primetime games. We can figure out which home games work best.

We can also dream a little. We can look at the end of the season, the last few games, and we can imagine what if those games become really significant from a playoff standpoint? What if the Dolphins are in the thick of things in late December? How will the schedule affect that?

So let’s dream.

The Dolphins finish the season with a home game against the Jets. Hmmm. A nice, tasty final course to the regular season. Two Sundays before, the Dolphins play the Patriots at home. How sweet might that be? It seems like it is normally the other way around, the Dolphins travelling to New England late in the season. Nice to finally see a shift to the south.

So in two of the final three games, the Dolphins are at home against their two biggest AFC East rivals, not to mention a road game at Buffalo sandwiched between those two. It has been seven years since the Dolphins last played both the Jets and Pats at home in the final month of the season.

About time for it to happen again.

Joe Philbin likes to talk about the Dolphins playing their absolute best in December. Now with the Jets and Patriots coming to town in December could he ask for a better scenario?

Yep, I like this schedule. Don’t like every schedule. Didn’t think much of last year’s schedule. But this one I like.

Some reasons:

• The Dolphins open with two straight road games and three of their first four on the road. That’s good. It’s good because it means they’ll have more home games later in the season and it’s good because it will add a sense of urgency to training camp. While the Browns in the opener are far from a pushover, they are a rebuilding team with a new coach and a lot of questions. Better than opening at New Orleans where the Dolphins play in week three.

• I like having three primetime games, a clear indication that the decision-makers believe these Dolphins are an up-and-coming team. A year ago the Dolphins got one Thursday night game at Buffalo. And that was it. This year there are two Monday night games and a Thursday night. That’s what you call progress.

• I like having the bye after five games. Not too early. Not too late.

• I like having a home game on Halloween. Get to eat all the candy myself that way.

• I like back-to-back home games in November against San Diego and Carolina, a nice two-game home entry into those four AFC East games in the final five weeks. See, that’s how you benefit from starting the season with two road games.

• I like the thought of Ryan Tannehill matching passes with Andrew Luck in the second game of the season. That could be quite a show.

• I like how the Dolphins almost have a second bye on their schedule, playing on a Thursday night at home against Cincinnati and then 11 nights later on a Monday night in Tampa. Those extra days to recoup are valuable in November.

What don’t I like? Don’t like playing in Pittsburgh on Dec. 8th and in Buffalo on Dec. 22nd. I’m cold just thinking about it. Don’t like playing on Monday night football in New Orleans because there is something about the Saints on Monday nights.

But why be picky? The Dolphins are building a team to contend and this schedule, especially those final two home games, will give them all the chances they need.
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