The New England Patriots are in the midst of one of the great transition periods in franchise history, as they have moved on from Tom Brady. And they did not promote from within either; some BetAnySports customers may have been rather surprised when they signed former league MVP Cam Newton as the man to steer the offense.
That brings with it many question marks, as you can probably imagine. But the Pats are the Pats. And Bill Belichick is Bill Belichick. So this is still going to be a formidable crew.
The Miami Dolphins were through to have gone into the “tank” last season. Without a lot of top-level talent (or any, for that matter), they nonetheless managed to win five games, and if they were angling for the #1 choice in the draft, they defeated that purpose.
These are familiar rivals, of course, and they will get together on Sunday in a season opener that will answer some questions for both teams. Game time is 1 PM ET at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
Newton’s recent injuries are an issue, and there was doubt as to whether his shoulder would allow him to throw down the field last year. There wasn’t much of a chance to find that out, as he threw just 89 passes for the Carolina Panthers. Whether his personality fits in with the “culture” of this squad might be another question altogether.
Belichick and the Patriots have had a way of resurrecting some careers. And New England didn’t sign him for no reason at all. The problem is that there isn’t a whole lot of speed in the receiver corps. They hope Damiere Byrd helps with that. Still, it looks like the Patriots will try to ground some opponents into submission. They’re not badly equipped for that, and Sony Michael heads up a decent “committee.” Newton, when healthy, has a chance to contribute to the ground assault.
In the NFL odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Patriots are the favorites at home:
New England Patriots -6.5 (-115)
Miami Dolphins +6.5 (-105)
Over 41.5 points (-110)
Under 41.5 points (-110)
The Patriots led the NFL in total defense and points allowed last season. But they suffered a few losses on that side of the ball. One of the defections was linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who wound up signing with the Dolphins, who had plenty of cap room.
Miami didn’t do a bad job of fortifying itself in the off-season, although with the roster changes they kind of wished they’d had a mini-camp. One thing that is not likely to change right away is the quarterback situation. Even though Tua Tagovailoa was drafted in the first round, he’ll sit for a while as Ryan Fitzpatrick plays. Laugh if you want, but this team responded to Fitz last year, going farther than they should have.
Now the Dolphins have addressed a lot of needs. They have a ground game with Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. The offensive line will look a lot different, with Ereck Flowers and former Pat Ted Karass (center) added, along with rookies Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt. Shaq Lawson will help them put a better pass rush together. We mentioned Van Noy. And there are several additions to the secondary, including Byron Jones, who has an Achilles injury but may play here.
This is what happens when you have an abundance of available money and draft choices. This Dolphins team has a much different look to it (this includes new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey), and we have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff for making the most of a bad situation last year.
Let’s not forget that this team, with a tremendous talent disadvantage, went to Foxborough and won last season, in a game that meant something to the Pats. And while we realize that was their first win at Gillette Stadium in nine years, we think they’ll battle again, and so we take the points.
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