The battle for the AFC East crown will heat up early this year as the New England Patriots get set to clash with their rivals the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are looking to recover from their subpar record and public embarrassment last season. The Patriots, on the other hand, look like a legitimate contender to make a Super Bowl run. Despite the seeming disparity in personnel, these division rivalry games are always tough to predict.
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The Patriots offense appears poised for a dynamic season. Tom Brady will start the year with a full complement of weaponsGronk will get in the end zone on Sunday.
(Photo: Al Tielemans/SI)
including Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen who both lost time due to injury in 2013. Those two receivers in particular will create some difficult mismatches for the defense. Combined with an emerging receiving corps featuring Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, the Miami secondary and linebackers could be in for a long game.
The Patriots defense also looks formidable in 2014. They recovered from the loss of cornerback Aqib Talib by acquiring shutdown corner Darelle Revis. First round pick Dominique Easley will work along the defensive line and should also contribute right out of the gate. Revis may be tested right away by playmaker Mike Wallace who will be looking to come back from a lackluster 2013 in Miami.
The Dolphins offense is looking at a make or break year with the current personnel. Ryan Tannehill has not panned out in terms of being a franchise quarterback despite showing flashes of huge potential. As previously mentioned, Mike Wallace did not display the gamebreaking qualities that 'fins fans had hoped to see. This season, the team will be working with an improved offensive line and they have added Knowshon Moreno to the running back rotation.
Defensively the Dolphins held onto star cornerback Brent Grimes and veteran defensive lineman Randy Starks. They also brought in former standout corner Cortland Finnegan who will be an interesting story if he can regain some of his former status and earn a job opposite Grimes. Defense has been a strong suit in Miami for the past few years and it should be solid again in 2014, but will it be enough to stop Brady and company on Sunday?
There is no tougher test than a game against a contender who is also a division rival. This is what both the Dolphins and the Patriots face on Sunday. At stake is a share of first place in the competitive AFC East division. I think that in the end, the Pats will be too much for a Dolphins team with too many question marks.
Final Score: Patriots 31 Dolphins 17