The old saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is a true one when it comes to the first week of the NFL’s 2021 season. As was officially announced on Wednesday morning — 12 hours before the league’s full schedule will be released — the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins will face off on opening day yet again.
The Patriots will host their AFC East rivals on Sunday, September 12th, at 4:25 pm ET. The game, just like last year’s Week 1 matchup, will take place at Gillette Stadium.
New England has positive memories of that 2020 meeting with the Dolphins. The first contest in the post-Tom Brady era saw the Patriots beat their opponents with a final score of 21-11: the team’s new-look offense finished with 217 rushing yards, quarterback Cam Newton completed 79 percent of his pass and scored twice on the ground, and the defense registered three interceptions off quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Of course, a lot has changed for the teams since then. While Miami ended the season with a respectable 10-6 record, the Patriots stumbled to their first losing season since 2000 — going 7-9 and later also dropping the rematch against the Dolphins with a score of 22-12.
As a result of their disappointing campaign and their financial potency heading into the offseason, the Patriots ended up as big spenders in free agency: they rebuilt their offensive supporting cast and significantly bolstered the defensive front seven. On top of it all, New England also selected quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of the draft.
While Jones is not guaranteed to start over Newton in Week 1, there is a chance that he will and therefore take on his former teammate at the University of Alabama: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was Jones’ predecessor under center for the Crimson Tide.
On September 12 they will meet again, possibly with a new era of New England football being rung in that day.