The NFL is a for-profit business. Just like any other business, they aim to make as much money as possible. One of the major revenue streams for the NFL is television contracts. Knowing this, the league will slate the most exciting matchups for primetime games.
Teams that have not been successful in the prior years and teams not expected to be competitive in the upcoming year usually don’t qualify for many of these games. By this measure, one can glean what the NFL thinks of a franchise’s chances.
The Miami Dolphins only have one primetime game in 2020.
8 Teams have 5 Primetime Games
- Kansas City Chiefs
- San Francisco 49ers
- Baltimore Ravens
- Dallas Cowboys
- Green Bay Packers
- Los Angeles Rams
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- New England Patriots
These teams are considered to either be Super Bowl contenders or have MVP candidates on their rosters. Two exceptions to this rule are the Buccaneers and Patriots. The intrigue for both is understandable. Bill Belichick is on a quest to try to become the greatest coach of his time. If he finds a way to keep the Patriots on top, then they are worth the primetime billing.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have added future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady and brought Rob Gronkowski out of retirement. If not for Jameis Winston’s league-leading interceptions thrown in 2019, the Bucs probably would have qualified for the playoffs. The Bucs and the Patriots are getting the realtime “Last Dance” treatment and deservedly so.
7 Teams have 4 Primetime Games
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Chicago Bears
- Las Vegas Raiders
- Buffalo Bills
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New Orleans Saints
- Seattle Seahawks
This is the group where things start to get questionable in comparison to the Dolphins. The Seahawks and Saints need no justification. In fact, they probably should be upset with the Bucs and Patriots. The Steelers have ‘the return of Big Ben,’ so no argument there either. The Raiders seem to be on the rise. The also have a dedicated fanbase and are unveiling a new stadium in a new city. The NFL is right to hype up the Las Vegas Raiders.
This is where the debate begins though. The Eagles won their division last season, but barely. It could be argued that the other teams in their division improved more than they did this offseason. Not to mention they lost to the Miami Dolphins last season.
The Bills made the playoffs last year, but not even Bills fans are sold that the Bills will take over the AFC East this season.
Perhaps the most egregious decision was to give the Chicago Bears four games. The Bears have a quarterback controversy between two quarterbacks that would be backups for half of the teams in the league. If they got four games in the spotlight, surely Miami should have more than one.
3 Teams have 3 Primetime Games
- New York Giants
- Tennessee Titans
- Denver Broncos
This bunch seems about right. In a dysfunctional NFC East, the big market New York Giants could find themselves back on top of the division in a blink of an eye. The Titans made a surprising playoff run last season and that earned them a few games under the lights. The Broncos also seem to be going in the right direction and their Division is as exciting as it gets.
7 Teams have 2 Primetime Games:
- Arizona Cardinals
- New York Jets
- Atlanta Falcons
- Minnesota Vikings
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Cleveland Browns
- Cincinnati Bengals
Two primetime games versus one is a nominal difference. The only point of contention here is if the Bengals and Jets are in this group, then the Dolphins deserve to be here also. The counterargument is the Bengals will be showcasing the #1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow and the Jets finished better than the Dolphins in 2019.
5 Teams have 1 Primetime Game (including the Miami Dolphins):
- Miami Dolphins
- Houston Texans
- Indianapolis Colts
- Carolina Panthers
- Jacksonville Jaguars
This is the group that was most disrespected by the NFL. The Texans have made some questionable offseason moves the past couple of years, but still have Deshaun Watson at quarterback and a decent chance to win their division. The Colts upgraded at quarterback with Philip Rivers and also are in the conversation to take the AFC South. The Panthers moved on from Cam Newtown but Teddy Bridgewater is no slouch. He will join an offense with Christian McCaffrey and they should be competitive.
Regardless of that, Miami should be in better company. No team was more active in the NFL Draft and Free Agency than the Dolphins. From an entertainment factor, the Dolphins quarterback play will be interesting whether it is Fitzpatrick or Tua taking snaps under center. They have already proven that they can be the talk of the town. They knocked off the Patriots on the road in a game that had major playoff implications for New England. They are the two-time play of the year champions.
The Dolphins have to prove that they are perennial playoff contenders to get the same attention as the Ravens, Cowboys, and Patriots. However, the NFL is clearly underestimating the potential of the 2020 Miami Dolphins and the work of Chris Grier and Brian Flores.
On the bright side, the NFL thinks more highly of the Dolphins than they do of the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions who were not awarded any primetime games.