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Dolphins open 2021 season at Patriots, travel to London to take on Jaguars

Other notable games include trip to Tampa, Thursday night home game against Ravens
Miami Dolphins receive kickoff from Buffalo Bills in 2020
Posted at 5:42 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 23:53:24-04

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins will open the 2021 season at New England and travel to London for the fifth time in franchise history.

For the first time ever, Miami will play nine home games as a result of the 17-game schedule.

The Dolphins will open their home slate against Buffalo and travel to Tampa Bay in October for the first of two consecutive games against Florida teams.

Miami will also make two prime-time appearances -- a Thursday night game at Hard Rock Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens in November and the final Monday night game of the 2021 calendar year at the New Orleans Saints.

The NFL released its complete 2021 schedule Wednesday evening.

Here is a week-by-week look at each of the opponents the Miami Dolphins will face this season.

at New England Patriots (Sept. 12)

New England Patriots QB Cam Newton scores TD vs Miami Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker, September 2020
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton scores his second rushing touchdown as Miami Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker chases in the second half of the season opener, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass.

The Dolphins discovered that, even without Tom Brady in a Patriots uniform, it's still hard to win in New England. Miami is 1-11 in New England since 2009. The Dolphins notched their lone win in 2019 -- the final meeting involving Brady -- but lost 21-11 last season with Cam Newton at the helm. Third-year head coach Brian Flores, who came to Miami after serving as a longtime defensive assistant coach for the Patriots under Bill Belichick, is 2-2 against his former team.

Buffalo Bills (Sept. 19)

Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs tripped up at Miami Dolphins in 2020
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs runs with ball and is tripped up by Miami Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker (55) during a game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The Dolphins are 0-4 against Buffalo in the Flores era. That's a testament to the turnaround of the franchise under the leadership of quarterback Josh Allen and tutelage of head coach Sean McDermott. Miami is hoping for the same fortunes with the emergence of 2020 first-round quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is the undisputed starter for the Dolphins entering the 2021 season.

at Las Vegas Raiders (Sept. 26)

Miami Dolphins kicker Sanders celebrates after game-winning FG at Las Vegas Raiders in 2020
Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders (7) celebrates with teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal against the Las Vegas Raiders, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Las Vegas. The Dolphins won 26-25.

The NFL is in its second year in Las Vegas. So is Miami. This makes the second straight year of the Dolphins playing in the desert. The Raiders, who moved from Oakland before the start of the 2020 season, appeared to have last year's game won with 19 seconds left when then-Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick pulled off an improbable desperation pass that set up a game-winning field goal for Miami. Fitzpatrick's 59-yard touchdown pass with 2:55 gave Miami a one-point lead, but Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson booted a 22-yard field goal with 19 seconds to retake the lead. Thanks to Fitzpatrick's 41-yard pass and the facemask penalty against the Raiders that followed, Jason Sanders kicked a 44-yard field goal with a second remaining to give the Dolphins a 26-25 victory. Are the Dolphins in for another crazy finish this time? Sanders is back, but "FitzMagic" has moved on to Washington.

Indianapolis Colts (Oct. 3)

Miami Dolphins receiver DeVonte Parker tackled by Indianapolis Colts in 2019
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker is tackled by Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis (37) during the second half of a game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Indianapolis.

Carson Wentz takes over at quarterback now that Philip Rivers has retired. Wentz, who led the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl victory during the 2017 season, was dealt to the Colts in March. Indianpolis used to be an annual opponent for the Dolphins before the 2002 realignment shifted the Colts to the AFC South Division.

at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Oct. 10)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Ryan Griffin throws vs. Miami Dolphins in 2019 preseason
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Griffin passes against the Miami Dolphins during the second half of a preseason game Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Tampa, Fla.

The Dolphins will travel to Tampa to pay a visit to the defending Super Bowl champions. An all-too-familiar quarterback is back for the Buccaneers in 2021. Heck, it's not just Brady. All of the starters from last season's team are returning (a feat never before accomplished in the salary cap era), making them prohibitive favorites to win it all again. Miami hasn't won in Tampa since 1988, when the Buccaneers were still playing in the "Big Sombrero."

vs. Jacksonville Jaguars in London (Oct. 17)

Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Chris Conley catches pass vs. Miami Dolphins in 2020
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley catches a pass in front of Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) during the second half of a "Thursday Night Football" game, Sept. 24, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Dolphins are traveling across the pond to take on their neighbors to the north. Miami beat the Jaguars 31-13 last year, but a lot has changed in Jacksonville since then. The Jaguars are starting over with No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Trevor Lawrence at quarterback and Urban Meyer as head coach. Will Lawrence be the starter by Oct. 17? This will be Miami's fifth trip to London, where the Dolphins are 1-3 (although their lone win came as the designated visitor). The Jaguars, meanwhile, are 3-4 in games played at their home away from home.

Atlanta Falcons (Oct. 24)

Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan looks to throw vs. Miami Dolphins in 2017
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan runs out of the pocket as Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kiko Alonso defends during the second half of a game, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, in Atlanta.

The Falcons return to the stadium where they nearly won a Super Bowl (no, not that Super Bowl). But the days of Chris Chandler, Jamal Anderson and Morten Andersen seem like distant memories. Not since Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez played for Atlanta from 2009-13 have Falcons fans had such high expectations for a player at that position. But that's the prevailing sentiment fans have for Florida and Mackey Award winner Kyle Pitts, who at pick No. 4 became the highest drafted tight end in NFL history. The Pitts pick also gives quarterback Matt Ryan extended life in Atlanta, as well as a reliable target.

at Buffalo Bills (Oct. 31)

Buffalo Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie runs for TD vs. Miami Dolphins in January 2021
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie runs for a touchdown after catching a short pass in the first half against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Miami hasn't beaten the Bills in Orchard Park since 2016. The Dolphins were in contention for a playoff berth last year when Buffalo routed Miami 56-26 in the final game of the season. The blowout loss not only knocked the Dolphins out of the playoff race, but it also ensured the Bills of a perfect 6-0 record against the AFC East Division -- the first time Buffalo has swept the division in franchise history.

Houston Texans (Nov. 7)

Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson throws vs. Miami Dolphins in 2018
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson looks to pass during a game against the Miami Dolphins, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, in Houston. The Texans beat the Dolphins 42-23.

Remember when reports surfaced that Deshaun Watson might have a future in Miami? Of course, that was before 22 civil lawsuits were filed against him. Now he's persona non grata, disgruntled in Houston but likely unable to land anywhere else. Star defensive end J.J. Watt did get out, though, after the three-time NFL defensive player of the year requested and was granted a release by the team that drafted him in 2011. The offseason drama comes at great expense to the Texans and should have long-lasting ramifications for the future of the franchise. The Texans are 8-1 all-time against the Dolphins.

Baltimore Ravens (Nov. 11)

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson passes at Miami Dolphins in 2019
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson looks to pass during the first half of a game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The last three meetings have been lopsided losses for Dolphins -- 59-10 in 2019, 40-0 in 2017 and 38-6 in 2016. In fact, the last game between the teams set a new Dolphins record for points allowed and yards allowed (643) in a single game. Ravens quarterback and South Florida native Lamar Jackson threw for 324 yards and five touchdowns in that game. Baltimore's 49-point margin of victory was also the worst regular-season loss in team history. Here's hoping Miami can avoid another embarrassing performance at home on "Thursday Night Football."

at New York Jets (Nov. 21)

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold sacked by Miami Dolphins defenders in November 2020
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is sacked by Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) with help from teammates during a game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J.

This will be Tagovailoa's first game at the Meadowlands after a thumb injury kept him out of last year's game, when the Dolphins outscored the Jets 44-3. Enough said.

Carolina Panthers (Nov. 28)

Carolina Panthers running back Elijah Hood runs for TD vs. Miami Dolphins in 2018
Carolina Panthers running back Elijah Hood runs past the Miami Dolphins defense for a touchdown in the second half of a preseason game, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C.

Sam Darnold is hoping his days of being battered by the Dolphins defense are behind him now that he's in Carolina. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule lured South Florida native Teddy Bridgewater to Carolina last season, but it didn't help improve the offensive woes plaguing the Panthers, so Rhule traded for Darnold. Although Miami leads the all-time series against Carolina 4-2, the Dolphins haven't beaten the Panthers since 2009.

New York Giants (Dec. 5)

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley runs through Miami Dolphins defense in 2019
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley runs through members of the Miami Dolphins defense in the second half of a game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J.

This game is the result of the coveted 17th game that NFL owners voted in favor of implementing starting this season. It is the first NFL expansion since 1978, when the regular season went from 14 to 16 games. The Dolphins are 2-7 all-time against Giants. Their last win came in 2003, one year before the now-retired Eli Manning arrived in the Big Apple.

New York Jets (Dec. 18/19)

Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa NFL debut vs. New York Jets, Oct. 18, 2020
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks to pass during the second half against the New York Jets, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase was fired after just two seasons in favor of Robert Saleh, who spent the past four seasons as defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. The Jets also parted ways with Darnold in favor of second overall pick Zach Wilson. Last year's games against the Dolphins may have had something to do with it. The Dolphins shut out the Jets 24-0 at home last season, holding them without a third-down conversion until the fourth quarter. That was the same game in which Tagovailoa made his NFL debut, completing both of his passes for 9 yards in mop-up duty.

at New Orleans Saints (Dec. 27)

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees passes vs. Miami Dolphins in London in 2017
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees passes the ball during the second half of a game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, at Wembley Stadium in London.

The Dolphins will be spending the Monday after Christmas in New Orleans, where the Saints are searching for their next starting quarterback after the retirement of Drew Brees. Will it be former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, who spent last season as the backup to Brees? Or will it be Ian Book, who was selected in the fourth round of the draft after leading Notre Dame to the College Football Playoff twice in his three seasons as a starter? The Dolphins never beat the Saints with Brees in the lineup, losing all three meetings in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

at Tennessee Titans (Jan. 2)

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry at Miami Dolphins in 2018
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry carries the ball during the second half of a game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Ryan Tannehill took the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2016, but he missed the postseason with an injury and was sidelined for the entire 2017 season. His average play and history of injuries was enough cause for Miami to move on from him in 2019, trading him Tennessee. It seems to have worked out for both teams. Tannehill rejuvenated his career with the Titans, leading them to the AFC Championship game in his first season there and earning the NFL's comeback player of the year honors. Tannehill and the Titans returned to the playoffs last season. Bolstered by the ground game of Derrick Henry, the Titans now appear to be the team to beat in the AFC South.

New England Patriots (Jan. 9)

Miami Dolphins running back Matt Breida signals for first down vs. New England Patriots in December 2020
Miami Dolphins running back Matt Breida signals for a first down against the New England Patriots during the second half of a game Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

They may struggle against the Patriots away from South Florida, but the Dolphins are 6-2 at home since 2013. Miami's 22-12 home win last season eliminated the Patriots from playoff contention for the first time since 2008. As a result, rookie Mac Jones has the distinction of becoming the first quarterback selected by the Patriots in the first-round of the draft since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. Jones played his final collegiate game at Hard Rock Stadium, leading Alabama to a national championship and undefeated season.