The Patriots have had some trouble with the Dolphins in recent seasons, particularly on the road. The heat and humidity — or maybe the impending thunderstorms, as forecasted for Monday night — of Miami have never been kind to the Pats.
Still, New England will certainly be considered the favorite when the teams take the field for the 7 p.m. kickoff. Opening the season with a victory will depend on being sound in every facet of the game, but some areas might be more important than others.
For instance, it remains to be seen whether quarterback Tom Brady can develop a rhythm with new wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who was held to just three catches in the preseason. If not, it may be up to the offensive line and running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead to carry the load in the early going.
Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne regressed last season from a strong 2009 campaign, and he's looking to bounce back. Vince Wilfork and newcomer Albert Haynesworth may hold the key to pressuring and rattling the young QB. Otherwise the pressure is on an inexperienced secondary, led by Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, to prevent the big plays through the air.
Most of all, though, doesn't it feel great to be talking football again?
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