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Dolphins schedule, 2021 NFL odds: Make-or-break season for Tua Tagovailoa begins as Week 1 underdog at Patriots

The Dolphins appear to be a team on the rise – if Tua Tagovailoa is truly a franchise quarterback.
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A potential make-or-break second for second year Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa begins Week 1 with a trip to New England, which opened as a 2-point favorite on the NFL odds. The Fins catch one break in the 2021 schedule in that they play only seven true road games as one "away" is in London against Jacksonville. It will mark Miami's fifth regular-season game in London, where the Dolphins are 1-3 all-time. Overall, Miami will play seven games against 2020 playoff teams. The warm-blooded Fins are looking at three potential outdoor cold-weather matchups. 

While the Dolphins missed the playoffs for the fourth year in a row in 2020, one could argue they were winners for the season overall by jumping to 10 victories. Had the Fins been in the NFC, they would have easily earned a wild-card spot. For the 2021 season, William Hill Sportsbook oddsmakers give Miami an Over/Under win total of 9 despite the additional 17th game, and the fact Miami has one of the easiest schedules in the league on paper. The SportsLine Projection Model forecasts the Fins for 9.4 victories.

Miami had a shot at the postseason entering its Week 17 game at AFC East champion Buffalo, but the Bills still had the AFC's No. 2 seed to play for. Josh Allen & Co. obliterated the Dolphins 56-26. Miami's wild-card chances vanished with the Indianapolis Colts clinching the No. 7 seed by defeating Jacksonville.

The season finale somewhat mimicked the season of then-rookie quarterback Tagovailoa. He threw for 361 yards but also three interceptions. The lefty and No. 5 overall pick closed the season with a 6-3 record as the starter but was wildly inconsistent and relieved on a few occasions by Ryan Fitzpatrick.

"FitzMagic" will not be able to help this season as he signed with Washington, but Miami did bring in a safeguard in former Colts starting QB Jacoby Brissett. The Fins in theory could have had their pick of Trey Lance, Justin Fields or Mac Jones by staying at No. 3 in this year's draft but traded back – an obvious sign of faith in Tua. That faith probably only lasts one more year, though.

Miami also got Tua some help in big-play but injury-prone receiver Will Fuller. Good player but has played just 53 of 80 games and has eclipsed 11 games in a season only once. Fuller should stay plenty motivated as he signed just a one-year deal. His Dolphins debut will have to wait until Week 2, as he serves the final game of his PED suspension in Week 1. 

The team also added Alabama game-breaking receiver/returner Jaylen Waddle with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 draft as well as the likes of running back Malcolm Brown (Rams), center Matt Skura (Ravens), defensive tackle Adam Butler (Patriots) and cornerback Justin Coleman (Lions) in free agency. 

The Dolphins' 2021 schedule is ranked as the 27th-toughest in the league as their 17 opponents – hosting the New York Giants is the 17th game -- were a combined 128-144-0 last season.

Miami Dolphins trends/William Hill Sportsbook odds

  • 2020 record: 10-6 (11-5 against the spread, 7-9 Over/Under)
  • 2021 strength of schedule rank: 27th (opponents' combined winning percentage of .471)
  • 2021 Over/Under win total: 9
  • SportsLine Projection Model forecasted wins: 9.4
  • Odds to win Super Bowl 56: +2800
  • To win AFC: +1400
  • To win AFC East: +340
  • To make playoffs: No -150, yes +125
  • NFL MVP odds: Tua Tagovailoa +6000

Miami Dolphins Schedule

Week 1 at New England Patriots: Pats' lone loss in past 10 home meetings was 27-24 Week 17 stunner in 2019

Week 2 vs. Buffalo Bills: Buffalo has won its past two in Miami but didn't cover last year in 31-28 victory 

Week 3 at Las Vegas Raiders: Miami was a 2.5-point favorite late last season in Vegas and won 26-25

Week 4 vs. Indianapolis Colts: Indy on three-game ATS & SU road skid in series, last in Miami in 2015

Week 5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bucs have covered six straight in series overall, last a 30-20 win in 2017 in Miami

Week 6 at Jacksonville Jaguars (London): Teams played last year in Jacksonville and Dolphins rolled 31-13

Week 7 vs. Atlanta Falcons: Dolphins have won past two in series overall, last 20-17 on road in 2017

Week 8 at Buffalo Bills: Miami is 0-2 ATS in its past two at Buffalo after last year's Week 17 blowout

Week 9 vs. Houston Texans: Houston is 1-3 SU & ATS in Miami but won last trip six years ago

Week 10 vs. Baltimore Ravens (TNF): Miami is on five-game ATS home losing streak in series dating to 2007

Week 11 at New York Jets: New York is 0-3 ATS in its past three at home after 20-3 loss in 2020

Week 12 vs. Carolina Panthers: Carolina had been 0-5 ATS in series before 45-21 home win in 2017    

Week 13 vs. New York Giants: Added 17th opponent; Big Blue won its fourth straight in the series in 2019, 36-20 at home

Week 14 BYE

Week 15 vs. New York Jets: Fins are 5-0 SU & ATS in past five at home vs. Jets after 24-0 win last year

Week 16 at New Orleans Saints (MNF): New Orleans is 3-0 SU & ATS in past three overall in series

Week 17 at Tennessee Titans: Miami is 3-1 ATS in Nashville, last visiting in 2015 and winning 38-10

Week 18 vs. New England Patriots: Pats have dropped three of past four in Miami, losing 22-12 in 2020

Where does every player appear in our 2021 Fantasy football rankings? And which rookie quarterback will provide shocking value? Join SportsLine right now to get 2021 Fantasy football rankings, all from the model that simulated the entire season 10,000 times.

Matt Severance
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