Schedule Highlights and Lowlights

The Dolphins got some good news when the NFL schedule was released on Tuesday, as they will open with two home games and also finish the regular season at Sun Life Stadium. Of course, that means there was a price to pay at some point. We dissect the Dolphins' 2011 schedule.

Here are the things that stand out.

-- Opening with two home games. It's the fifth time in franchise history this has happened, but only the second time since 1968. The other time came in 1997 when the Dolphins beat Indianapolis and Tennessee to start off 2-0. Of course, winning the first two games this year won't be easy considering the first two opponents are New England, which still has Tom Brady, and Houston, whom the Dolphins have never beaten.

-- Prime-time home opener. It's the third consecutive year the Dolphins will open their home schedule at night, following games against the Colts two years ago and the Jets last year. It's also going to be the second time the Dolphins have opened the season with a Monday night home game, the first time coming in 1975 against Oakland. There's two ways to look at this. On the one hand, we love the Dolphins playing in prime time. But on the other hand, we hate to see the Dolphins lose the advantage of a September home game. Mind you, the Dolphins play at New England on Dec. 24, so the weather should favor the Patriots. The Dolphins lost their edge with the September game being played at night.

-- Jets in prime time. Apparently, it has become a scheduling rule to play the Dolphins and Jets in prime time. A little variety wouldn't hurt, but then again the last two prime-time games against the Jets were thrillers.

-- The long road stretch. The price the Dolphins will be paying for opening with two home games and closing with another one is a stretch of five out of six on the road. In fact, after hosting Houston on Sept. 18, the Dolphins won't return home until Oct. 23 and then not again until Nov. 13. That's a stretch of one home game in seven weeks. That's obviously the part the Dolphins need to survive.

Thanksgiving. Look, this shouldn't surprise anyone. The Dolphins or the Bills are the AFC East teams visiting Dallas this season, meaning it was going to be one of them playing on Thanksgiving. No surprise the NFL assigned Miami to that game. While the short week normally would seem to favor the home team, just keep in mind that the Dolphins are 5-1 on Thanksgiving, including a 40-21 victory over the Cowboys in 2003.


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