Prepare to be sleep-deprived, Miami Dolphins fans.
A year after getting largely overlooked, the Dolphins will get plenty of national exposure in 2013, assigned three prime-time games when the schedule was announced Thursday.
The highlight: A home affair with the Bengals on Halloween night (a Thursday night), which will air on NFL Network.
The Dolphins also will play on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Sept. 30 at New Orleans and Nov. 11 at Tampa Bay. It’s a significant boost for the Dolphins, who had just one prime-time game in 2012 — and that was a Thursday night contest at Buffalo.
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Perhaps spurred by the splash Miami made in free agency — which included the signings of Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe and Brent Grimes — the NFL granted the Dolphins three nighttime games for the first time since 2010.
They open the season Sept. 8 at Cleveland, where the Browns will be coached by former University of Miami offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. They will close the year at home against the rival Jets (Dec. 29) for the second time in three years.
In between, the Dolphins will play at Indianapolis (Sept. 15), host the Falcons (Sept. 22) and the Super Bowl champion Ravens (Oct. 6) before a Week 6 bye.
The Dolphins then have back-to-back divisional games (home against Buffalo on Oct. 20 and at New England on Oct. 27) ahead of back-to-back prime-time games.
After that, they have seven consecutive 1 p.m. Sunday games to end the season. That slate includes home games against San Diego (Nov. 17) and Carolina (Nov. 24) before the calendar turns to a potentially crucial December.
Four of their six AFC East games are in the final month: at the Jets on Dec. 1; home against New England on Dec. 15, at Buffalo on Dec. 22 and home against the Jets to close out the season. The Dolphins also will visit the Steelers on Dec. 8.
“The coaches, players, staff and organization look forward to the challenges and opportunities that the 2013 season will present,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.
“We are excited to kick off against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 8 and look forward to the support of our loyal fans throughout the 2013 season.”
The Dolphins also announced their preseason schedule Thursday night. After appearing in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 4, they are at Jacksonville on Aug. 9, at Houston on Aug. 17 and then home against Tampa Bay on Aug. 24 and New Orleans on Aug. 29.
Other takeaways from the schedule release:
• Six of the Dolphins’ home games will be at 1 p.m. Sunday — an advantage against teams not acclimated to the South Florida heat.
• Miami again is not scheduled to appear on Sunday night, which is considered the marquee time slot of the week. The NFL does have the option of moving the Dolphins to a Sunday night game in Weeks 11 through 16.
• The Dolphins will open in Cleveland for just the second time in team history. It will be the 31st time they begin the season on the road.
• Miami has never faced played the Falcons in their home opener.
• The Dolphins will have an October bye for the fifth straight season.
• The Ravens haven’t visited Sun Life Stadium since the 2008 playoff game.
• The Dolphins have appeared onMonday Night Football
78 times in their history. They are 40-38 in those games.