Dolphins 2013 schedule: Miami has a tough road to contention

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are a team on the rise. If they are going to make the playoffs, they are going to have to get through some stiff competition.

A year after finishing 7-9 with a few close losses, some are expecting the Miami Dolphins to contend for a playoff spot in 2013. If Miami is going to make the postseason, it will have to earn its way there. Based on last season, the Dolphins have the eighth-hardest schedule heading into 2013, according to NFL.com.

New England will once again be the biggest challenge in the AFC East with the Patriots favored to win the division for the fifth straight season. Miami's first meeting against the Patriots will be on the road near midseason. The Dolphins host the Patriots in Week 15, a game which could have huge playoff implications.

In addition to games against their division, the Dolphins will play the NFC South and AFC North. Both divisions are likely to have multiple playoff contenders. Here is a complete look at Miami's 2013 schedule.

Week

Date

Opponent

Time (ET)

TV

1

Sep. 8

@ Browns

1 p.m.

CBS

2

Sep. 15

@ Colts

1 p.m.

CBS

3

Sep. 22

Falcons

4:05 p.m.

FOX

4

Sep. 30

@ Saints

8:40 p.m.

ESPN

5

Oct. 6

Ravens

1 p.m.

CBS

6

BYE

7

Oct. 20

Bills

1 p.m.

CBS

8

Oct. 27

@ Patriots

1 p.m.

CBS

9

Oct. 31

Bengals

8:25 p.m.

NFLN

10

Nov. 11

@ Buccaneers

8:40 p.m.

ESPN

11

Nov. 17

Chargers

1 p.m.

CBS

12

Nov. 24

Panthers

1 p.m.

FOX

13

Dec. 1

@ Jets

1 p.m.

CBS

14

Dec. 8

@ Steelers

1 p.m.

CBS

15

Dec. 15

Patriots

1 p.m.

CBS

16

Dec. 22

@ Bills

1 p.m.

CBS

17

Dec. 29

Jets

1 p.m.

CBS

Toughest out: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Dolphins have a challenging schedule, but are fortunate to play many of their tougher opponents at home. Home games against Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati and New England will be tough tests. A road game against New England in Week 8 won't be easy either.

Pittsburgh isn't coming off a playoff season, yet it still poses a very difficult test. To make the game more difficult, it will be the second of back-to-back road games and the week before Miami plays a key home game against New England. Miami may face some inclement weather in Pittsburgh in December. The Dolphins are just 3-7 all-time at Pittsburgh and have not beat the Steelers on the road since 1990.

Must win: New York Jets

The Jets will likely be among the weakest opponents on Miami's schedule and the Dolphins get to play them twice. With a slew of tough games, winning the games it should will be vital if Miami is going challenge for a playoff spot. The Dolphins host New York in the final game of the regular season. There could be playoff implications surrounding that game, possibly making it a literal must-win if Miami is going to make the postseason.

Don't overlook: Cincinnati Bengals

After going on the road to play New England, the Dolphins will return home for a Thursday night game against Cincinnati. The Bengals are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances and are widely expected to contend for a playoff spot again this season.

With playoff tiebreakers in mind, this game could mean much more than a win or a loss come January.

For all your Miami Dolphins news, make sure to head over to The Phinsider.

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