The Pats Pulpit staff provides their predictions for the New England Patriots week one match-up against the Miami Dolphins:
Greg Knopping: Patriots 24 Dolphins 20
This match-up certainly has some factors in the Dolphins favor that could result in an upset. The Phins' defensive line is fierce and protecting Tom Brady will be key. The Dolphins' offense will be debuting a new up-tempo scheme as well. If there are foreign elements to it, the Patriots could struggle to adapt early. Ultimately, I think the Patriots are still the better team, so they'll hang on in a very close one that could come down to the final drive.
Alec Shane: Patriots 31 Dolphins 24
When the schedule first came out, I had the Patriots going down to Miami and losing this game; of all the inter-division matchups, New England at Miami seems to be the one that has given them the most trouble over the years. This year in particular is going to be especially tough, with the heat, humidity, and a Dolphins team that is going to really, really want this game to prove that they can be playoff contenders. And honestly, if the Pats do drop this one, I won't be overly surprised. However, I just can't in good conscience pick against New England here, as they are the better team and have had all offseason to prepare for this game. It's all going to come down to the Patriots O-Line versus the Dolphins pass rush, and if this new group of lineman can give Brady the time he needs, the Patriots should come away with another opening day victory.
Richard Hill: Patriots 27 Dolphins 13
The Patriots have one main question mark: who is on the offensive line? The Dolphins offer many more questions, like who will be their running back, how will their brand new offensive line perform, and how healthy are their linebackers?
New England's defense is looking it's best in over a decade. I think they come out and make a statement, while the offensive line exceeds current expectations.
Marima: Pats 31, Fins 13
I'm granting Miami a late-game field goal to account for the high humidity and the possibility that the Patriots defense might get tired. Miami wants to prove the AFC East is not a one-team division, Ryan Tannehill wants to prove he can not only play against the best, but beat the best, and lead his team to the playoffs. Unfortunately, they'll have to delay that quest until Week 2 up in Buffalo against the squabbling Bills. The Dolphins' new-and-improved, up-tempo offense will result in up-tempo three-and-outs. Giving the field back to Tom Brady with his new-and-improved receivers is hardly a recipe for success. I look for the New England offense to get into its rhythm by throwing early and often.
What are your predictions for tomorrow's game? Let's hear them in the comments below!