Opening the season against the Miami Dolphins with Chad Henne at the helm in South Beach is probably the perfect way for the team to open the year in most fans' eyes.
However, the Dolphins are no pushover.
Miami possess one of the most underrated defenses in the whole league, which happens to match up well against the Patriots' pass-orientated group.
With Cameron Wake looking to repeat his starring role from a year ago and everyone expecting more from Koa Misi in his second season, the Dolphins will be able to get pressure on Tom Brady off the edges.
However, the key will be the coverage on the back-end that the Dolphins possess. Sean Smith and Vontae Davis are one of the best cornerback duos in the league and, while neither player is good at picking-off passes, they are both excellent in man coverage.
This will allow the Dolphins to nullify two of the Patriots' receivers, while the addition of Kevin Burnett in the offseason was tailored for these games.
Burnett is a very athletic linebacker. He will be able to match up to either of the Patriots' talented tight ends, while Karlos Dansby is already there in a similar position.
Shutting down the Patriots' two tight ends without leaving your base defense is crucial to stopping them as a unit.
Few teams in the league run the two tight end offense as effectively as the Patriots. With two tight ends and two receivers, Brady can check to the run while forcing defenses into nickel packages. However, with the Dolphins' athleticism in their linebacking corps, they will never allow the Patriots to have that advantage.
Of course, the major handcuffs on the Dolphins' chances of winning this game are on offense.
Chad Henne just needs to have an average season for the Dolphins to make the playoffs this year, but against the Patriots he has to have a big day if they are to win. Despite how good the defense is, Brady will find a way to put points on the board.
If Henne can hook up with Brandon Marshall on a few big plays, the Dolphins definitely have a chance to upset the odds on Monday night.
Marshall may be going up against one of the better young corners in the league in Devin McCourty, but he can use his physical presence to get to the ball.
The state of the Patriots' defense could allow for Reggie Bush to have a big day, as the front seven is a little ambiguous as far as its identity is concerned right now.
The safety spot will also be a possible point of contention as Sergio Brown looks likely to start alongside Pat Chung.
Neither player could be considered a veteran and the Dolphins have the pieces in Marshall, Bush in the slot or Davone Bess to hit home runs if given the opportunity.
The odds are stacked against the Dolphins—it wouldn't be an upset if it wasn't—but there is definitely a layout and plan that can be followed for them to win this game.
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