December matchups could be a turning point for Adam Gase's Dolphins

After catching passes from Tom Brady for five seasons, Danny Amendola brings a veteran presence to the Miami offense. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NFL has released its 2018 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Miami Dolphins.

Breakdown: The Dolphins’ final four opponents -- over five games total -- all made the postseason last year, setting up a make-or-break December stretch that could determine whether Adam Gase gets back to the playoffs in his third season as coach. Miami hosts the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots before traveling to play the Minnesota Vikings, returning home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and finishing the regular season in the depths of Buffalo’s winter. It will be a major test -- and perhaps a turning point -- for Gase and quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Midseason bye welcome after 2017: Miami played 16 consecutive games last season after its opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was canceled because of Hurricane Irma. They will have a more favorable bye week situation in 2018, in Week 11, although they must still play 10 consecutive games to start the year. One of the Dolphins’ five road games over that stretch is a Thursday night matchup on Oct. 25 in Houston, the only prime-time contest for the Dolphins this season. After a 6-10 finish in 2017, the Dolphins will have to earn further prime-time opportunities through flexible scheduling.

Weather effects balanced: Part of the Dolphins’ schedule that is often analyzed is their trips to cold-weather cities, as well as the timing of cold-weather teams’ trips to Miami. Those seem balanced in 2018, with the Dolphins making a favorable early-season trip to New England but also traveling to Buffalo in the regular-season finale. The early-season heat in Miami should not require much of an adjustment for the Tennessee Titans in Week 1 or the Oakland Raiders in Week 3, and the Dolphins will not have to worry about playing in cold-weather Indianapolis (Nov. 25) or Minnesota (Dec. 16) because those are both in domes.

Strength of schedule: T-15th, .500

Dolphins Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, Tennessee, 1 p.m.

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at NY Jets, 1 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, Oakland, 1 p.m.

  • Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at New England, 1 p.m.

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Chicago, 1 p.m.

  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, Detroit, 1 p.m.

  • Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 25, at Houston, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, NY Jets, 1 p.m.

  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at Green Bay, 1 p.m.

  • Week 11: BYE

  • Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, Buffalo, 1 p.m.

  • Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, New England, 1 p.m.

  • Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

  • Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.