Allen Eyestone-USA TODAY Sports

There's optimism when it comes to the Miami Dolphins in 2021. They are coming off of their best season in years, as head coach Brian Flores put up a 10-6 record in his second season with the Dolphins. Miami narrowly missed out on the playoffs, but fans have a good feeling when it comes to 2021. The Dolphins' ceiling seemingly hinges on the play of second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, but Miami added some intriguing weapons for him this offseason in Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle.

The AFC East should again be an interesting division to follow, and the Dolphins could be the team to watch. Below, we will break down every game on Miami's schedule this upcoming season. Is this team postseason bound in 2021? Caesars Sportsbook has Miami's O/U win total at 9.5.

(Over/Under win totals for every opponent courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)

Week 1 at New England Patriots 

Line: Patriots -2.5
Opponent win total: 
O/U 9

This game is actually one of my top five too-early picks for Week 1 of the 2021 season. Unfortunately, it's because I'm picking against the Dolphins. New England played host to the Dolphins in Foxborough in Week 1 last year as well, and defeated them, 21-11. Cam Newton and the Patriots faded as the year went on, but this team should be different in 2021. Bill Belichick returns all of his defensive opt-outs and also made several notable additions in free agency. You know he's especially motivated after Tom Brady won a Super Bowl in his very first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Patriots come out and make a statement in Week 1. 

Prediction: Dolphins lose 27-21
Projected record: 0-1

Week 2 vs. Buffalo Bills

Opponent win total: O/U 10.5

The Dolphins started off the season on the wrong foot, but they have another big opportunity to score a divisional victory in Week 2. The Dolphins have lost their last five matchups against the Bills, but I think there's a good opportunity to split the season series here. Tagovailoa didn't fare well in his first start against Buffalo in Week 17 last year, but he says both his hip and his confidence are improved coming into Year 2. Give me the upset.

Prediction: Dolphins win 28-27
Projected record: 1-1

Week 3 at Las Vegas Raiders

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

With fans allowed back in the stands, Allegiant Stadium might be one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. I would be nervous for any road team in Las Vegas, but the Dolphins may have some extra motivation in Week 3. Last year in Week 16 when playing in Vegas, Tagovailoa was benched as the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick pulled off a miraculous comeback. Tagovailoa probably has this game marked down on his calendar, and I'll give Miami the nod to steal a win against what could be an inconsistent Raiders team. 

Prediction: Dolphins win 24-21
Projected record: 2-1

Week 4 vs. Indianapolis Colts

Opponent win total: O/U 10

The Colts are a tough team to judge on paper, as we don't know if Carson Wentz is going to be able to reinvent himself now that he's reunited with Frank Reich. The Colts are ready to compete right now, but how much could bad quarterback play hamper them? I'll take Miami at home here. 

Prediction: Dolphins win 28-23
Projected record: 3-1

Week 5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Opponent win total: O/U 11.5

I'm not betting against the reigning Super Bowl champions at home. 

Prediction: Dolphins lose 30-21
Projected record: 3-2

Week 6 at Jacksonville Jaguars (London)

Opponent win total: O/U 6

It's Tagovailoa vs. Trevor Lawrence. Another big game between the two on a neutral playing field. These two young stars last met in the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship, where Clemson thrashed Alabama 44-16. Lawrence threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns while Tagovailoa passed for 295 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. I expect the Jaguars to take a step forward in 2021, but give me Miami here in a close battle. 

Prediction: Dolphins win 29-27
Projected record: 4-2

Week 7 vs. Atlanta Falcons

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

The Falcons are somewhat of an afterthought this season, but Matt Ryan's offense should still be able to put up points. If they can play with a lead in 2021 is yet to be determined, but maybe the hiring of Arthur Smith ends up being a great thing. I think the Falcons could be a potential trap game here, and Kyle Pitts could be a very dangerous weapon as well. 

Prediction: Dolphins lose 31-24
Projected record: 4-3

Week 8 at Buffalo Bills

Opponent win total: O/U 10.5

After pegging the Dolphins for an upset win over Buffalo in Week 2, Josh Allen gets his revenge in Week 8. Miami splits the season series.

Prediction: Dolphins lose 27-21
Projected record: 4-4

Week 9 vs. Houston Texans

Opponent win total: O/U 4.5

The Texans are expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL and Deshaun Watson's situation is still up in the air. The Dolphins get back on track after a two-game losing streak. 

Prediction: Dolphins win 31-10
Projected record: 5-4

Week 10 vs. Baltimore Ravens (TNF)

Opponent win total: O/U 11

Lamar Jackson will always be able to keep defenses on their toes, but it's possible Baltimore's passing attack could take a leap forward in 2021. The Ravens went out and signed Sammy Watkins in free agency, but more importantly drafted Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace. Jackson will make sure this team returns to the postseason, and I'll give the Ravens the edge in prime time here. 

Prediction: Dolphins lose 30-23
Projected record: 5-5

Week 11 at New York Jets

Opponent win total: O/U 6

Dolphins fans are going to hate me for this one, but I'm labeling this as a trap game. The Jets won't be good in 2021, but they have a new quarterback in Zach Wilson and a defensive-minded head coach in Robert Saleh. Miami is the better team, but I say the Dolphins split the season series with the Jets after a very off day in Week 11. 

Prediction: Dolphins lose 24-18
Projected record: 5-6

Week 12 vs. Carolina Panthers

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

Angry with their loss to the Jets, the Dolphins defense steps up and gives Sam Darnold a hard time in Miami. Controlling Christian McCaffrey's touches through the air will be important here, but this linebacking corps is up to the task. Tagovailoa rebounds as well against a young, yet talented defense. 

Prediction: Dolphins win 28-24
Projected record: 6-6

Week 13 vs. New York Giants

Opponent win total: O/U 7

Some are high on the Giants' potential after they selected Kadarius Toney and Azeez Ojulari with their first two picks in the draft, but Daniel Jones is going to have to be the one to elevate this franchise. They are a hard team to evaluate, but I say the Dolphins win this matchup after a solid bounce-back win against the Panthers. 

Prediction: Dolphins win 30-25
Projected record: 7-6

Week 15 vs. New York Jets

Opponent win total: O/U 6

After dropping the first game to the Jets, the Dolphins don't mess around in Week 15. Tagovailoa throws two touchdowns and rushes for another in a convincing win. 

Prediction: Dolphins win 33-20
Projected record: 8-6

Week 16 at New Orleans Saints (MNF)

Opponent win total: O/U 9.5

This Saints team is going to look very different without Drew Brees, but Jameis Winston will certainly give them more of an ability to throw downfield. That could either be a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm leaning toward the Dolphins in this matchup. My reasoning is that they are in the thick of it when it comes to the prospective playoff picture, and coach Flores wills this team to victory in a harsh environment in prime time. This could be a statement win for Miami. 

Prediction: Dolphins win 28-26
Projected record: 9-6

Week 17 at Tennessee Titans

Opponent win total: O/U 9.5

The Dolphins are now coming off of an emotional win and are on a short week on the road against a very good Titans team. Like Miami, Tennessee will likely be locked in a close battle in its division, so this game will be a must-win for the Titans. Derrick Henry wears down this defense and the Titans escape.

Prediction: Dolphins lose 23-17
Projected record: 9-7

Week 18 vs. New England Patriots

Opponent win total: O/U 9

This regular-season finale could be a very important one for playoff positioning. Maybe at this point, Mac Jones will be quarterbacking for the Patriots. If that's the case, his inexperience could be a bad thing for a Patriots team in a must-win situation. For the sake of this article, we will give the nod to Tagovailoa as he ends his second season with a big win, and hopefully gets the Dolphins to the playoffs.

Prediction: Dolphins win 31-27
Projected record: 10-7