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What's Lincoln Thinkin': 'Fins Schedule Breakdown

The NFL released its 2016 schedule Thursday night, and you can see it in its entirety here.

Here are some quick thoughts:

- The first two weeks are brutal, at Seattle and at New England in Weeks 1 and 2. But a new coach with a new system, not the worst thing to get two of the toughest games of the year done and over with. There won't be a lot of pressure to win those games, as the Dolphins will be heavy underdogs anyway. Another way to look at it - there's a chance that Tom Brady may be suspended for Week Two.

- If the Fins are 0-2, they will have an opportunity to get their season turned around with 5 of their next 6 games at home. In fact, the Fins never leave Florida in the month of October.

- The Dolphins asked, and received, two things that they wanted - they're first two games on the road, as insurance in case the stadium renovations needed a some more time to be finished. And the Dolphins got their two California games back-to-back, with the Chargers and Rams game in October. Adam Gase has said the team will stay in California for that week.

- While it is fun to go through and try and guess the Dolphins' record, it is totally guesswork. Whether the Fins can get back into the playoffs starts with one question - can they win the games against the Bills and Jets? The playoff discussion begins with the Fins being at least the second best team in the AFC East. Therefore the most important games of the year come in Week 15 and Week 16 - at New York and at Buffalo.

- I will also be looking at how the Dolphins finish in November. The games in California, plus home games against the Jets and 49ers, should all be very winnable for the Fins.

- The Steelers play on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day this year. Fins fans should feel lucky - they avoid those first two holidays this year.

- The Thursday night game against the Bengals will not be a walk-in-the-park in Week 4. But a 1-3 start will not alone kill any dreams of a playoff spot. But there are some tough games at the end of the schedule as well - I doubt the Fins will finish with better than a 3-2 record in December. That means, to get to 10-6 and make the playoffs, the Dolphins must go 6-1 in the middle of their season.


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