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Here’s the deal: You get to mix the pandemic-loosened travel with the right to attend games. So you get a hall pass for one getaway road trip this Dolphins season.
One game. One city. One full weekend with your pals coming up.
Which game to pick? The decision is a mix of a Lonely Planet travelogue, Anthony Bourdain cuisine review, football expectations and planned weather.
Here’s my mock draft of Dolphins road trips (worst to first):
8. Tampa Bay, Oct. 10. It’s convenient and it’s the Super Bowl champs. That’s it. Those are the selling points unless you haven’t seen enough of Tom Brady over the past two decades. It’s a spread-out town and no one in South Florida considers Tampa a travel destination unless you’re craving to watch great sports team. The Bucs, Rays and Lightning mock their South Florida counterparts of late.
7. Buffalo, Oct. 31. Hey, don’t disrespect Buffalo, especially in late October. The crisp air. The turned leaves. The … crisp air. Buffalo’s downtown is better than you might think — especially if you like chicken wings. And there’s always Niagara Falls. Two problems: The stadium in Orchard Park is a hike outside of downtown and this could be the toughest Dolphins game of the year — on the road against a very good Bills team. If you’re picking games, do you pick the most probable loss in a questionable destination?
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6. New England, Sept. 12. Great city. Great opening game against the new-look Patriots. But as a weekend road trip it can be the pits. You don’t even get the leaves turning. Your Friday fly-in and Saturday can be full of good food and good walkabout sights (sorry, the Red Sox aren’t home that weekend). The trouble with this trip is the stadium in Foxboro is closer to Providence, the traffic can be I-95-like (right, the drive involves I-95) and some parking spots are so far from the stadium it’ll feel like the Boston Marathon.
5. New York, Nov. 21. Come on, it’s New York. The start of the trip can be top-of-the-heap, A-No. 1 great. Choose your fun. Then comes Sunday. After the haul to the Meadowlands, you’ll see what appears the worst game on the schedule in a non-descript stadium against the rebuilding Jets.
4. Tennessee, Jan. 2. Here’s the sleeper on the schedule — if you can travel for the New Year and don’t fear the semi-cold. Nashville is a great weekend city with a walk-around downtown full of music and nightlife. Then you can walk to the stadium and watch what might be a pivotal, second-to-last game of the year against the reinvented Ryan Tannehill.
3. New Orleans, Dec. 27. You need to work hard not to have a good time in the Big Easy. This would be a top destination some seasons. The mid-holiday date either makes it possible or impossible for you to go. Plus, you can work off a smidge of the food and drink by walking to the stadium for a game that should have playoff implications for both teams. Bonus: It’s an 8:15 p.m. Monday night game so you even get an extra- long weekend.
2. London, Oct. 17. Sure, it’s crazy the Dolphins seem to play there so often. It’s a great city to visit, though (let’s forego any possible international travel restrictions due to the pandemic in rating this trip). The city speaks for itself. And you wonder why the NFL plays there? This ticket ranks the most expensive on the Dolphins schedule with a low price of $684 (via VividSeats.com). You’ll need an extra couple days for the travel. The only letdown is the opponent. Jaguars? Meh.
1. Las Vegas, Sept. 26. Consider last season’s game in Vegas was played during the pandemic shutdown and this is the first time Dolphins fans can mix Sin City and football. It’s the second-most expensive ticket on the schedule with a low price of $384. You see why the NFL moved there? But, hey, you can pay for that ticket at the craps table. Vegas, baby.