Only two games are left on the NFL’s opening weekend. The Monday Night season opens up with a double-header with the New England Patriots traveling to Miami to take on the Dolphins, followed by the Oakland Raiders traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos.
In the early game, the Dolphins have a defense that has the talent to rank in the top 10 at the end of the season. It will face a stiff test right out of the gates against quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. The Patriots can hurt a team through the air and then utilize a strong draw and shotgun running game when the defense starts to back off. The Dolphins could keep the Patriots from getting into the end zone with any regularity tonight, but the Fins’ offense is unlikely to find the end zone with much regularity either.
Quarterback Chad Henne is wildly inconsistent and their running back tandem from the past few years in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams has moved on. They did acquire running back Reggie Bush, but he is not an every down back. Rookie back Daniel Thomas has not impressed the coaching staff, leading to them signing Larry Johnson. The Patriots might not put up a boatload of points tonight, but they should not have to. Patriots start the season off with a win.
In Denver, both teams have a new head coach this season. For the Raiders at least, Hue Jackson was with the Raiders last season. The Broncos hired John Fox from Carolina. It will be interesting to see how many changes Jackson made from last season. The Broncos lack a lot of talent on offense, but quarterback Kyle Orton is an underrated quarterback and he does have a nice weapon on the outside in wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. The Broncos need to run the ball effectively to get their offense started.
The Raiders need to do the same. Quarterback Jason Campbell can be effective, but he is inconsistent. The Broncos should expect a heavy dose of running back Darren McFadden to start the game and it will be interesting to see if Denver’s defense will handle the run after switching from a 3-4 to 4-3 base scheme. However, if the Raiders are forced to the air, the Broncos have two pass rushers that would turn the tide of the game in their favor, Elvis Dumervil and rookie Von Miller.
The Raiders are more talented on offense, but the Broncos do have defensive weapons if the Raiders have to turn to the air. However, it remains to be seen if the Broncos have the offense to force the Raiders to abandon the running game. The Raiders should win a close one.