Miami Dolphins schedule analysis

Breakdown: As much as we like to speculate how the division standings are going to shake out after we see a few games in September, it would be wise not to write off the Miami Dolphins if they stumble out of the blocks in 2010.

Their schedule would seem to be quite forgiving in November and December and should allow them to make up ground in the standings -- or pull away if they're able to get off to a quick start.

In Weeks 12 through 16, the Dolphins will play the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions, teams with a combined 27-53 record last year. The Jets are the lone team in that group with a winning record last year, and the Dolphins defeated them twice.

That said, the Dolphins face a grueling start. Of their seven opponents in Weeks 2 through 9, six of them went to the playoffs last year. The only one that didn't won the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

The Dolphins also will be without nose tackle Jason Ferguson through that stretch. He will serve an eight-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Complaint department: By virtue of their geographical separation from the rest of the division, the Dolphins will log the most roundtrip miles. Their odometers will roll up 21,200 miles -- more than twice the Buffalo Bills (9,310 miles, including their "home game" in Toronto) and New York Jets (9,996 miles).

4 on the floor: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross expressed his desire to play more 4 p.m. games at Sun Life Stadium to make the oppressive South Florida weather more tolerable for fans. The Dolphins were granted zero 4 p.m. kickoffs at home this year.

But the Dolphins will host back-to-back games under the lights against the New York Jets on Sunday night in Week 3 (Jason Taylor's first game there in a different uniform) and the New England Patriots on Monday night in Week 4.

Dolphins Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, NY Jets, 8:20 PM

Week 4: Monday, Oct. 4, New England, 8:30 PM

Week 5: BYE

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, at Green Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, at Baltimore, 1:00 PM

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, Tennessee, 1:00 PM

Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 18, Chicago, 8:20 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, at Oakland, 4:05 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, Cleveland, 1:00 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at NY Jets, 4:15 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, Buffalo, 1:00 PM

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, Detroit, 1:00 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at New England, 1:00 PM