(CBS Miami) — NFL Week 1 is finally here. The Miami Dolphins open their season against the New England Patriots in Foxborough. With all the changes on these two teams, and without a preseason to see them in action, it’s hard to know what to expect.
Brian Flores and the Dolphins continued to revamp their roster this past off-season. That includes quarterback of the future, Tua Tagovailoa, who will start the season behind Ryan Fitzpatrick on the depth chart. Offensive tackle Austin Jackson and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, the team’s other two first-round picks, should have a more immediate impact on the field.
The team was also active in free agency, particularly helping themselves on defense. Byron Jones gives them a shutdown corner. Defensive end Shaq Lawson comes over from the Buffalo Bills to boost their rush off the edge. And Kyle Van Noy gives them a solid all-purpose linebacker.
The Patriots will be led by Cam Newton rather than longtime starter Tom Brady. The team won six Super Bowls during his tenure, the most recent just two seasons ago. Brady will lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.
The quarterback switch will have implications on the field and with the oddsmakers. “There’s about a point drop off [from Tom Brady to Cam Newton], says SportsLine‘s Wizard Of Odds Kenny White. “Brady a little better quarterback obviously, but older. Cam Newton the younger guy coming in, more athletic. But the other thing that’s scary is that Cam Newton is injury prone. Can he last 16 games for the Patriots like Tom Brady did? So slight drop off of about a point.”
Bill Belichick, of course, remains the head coach of a talented Patriots team, suggesting they can once again contend. Newton took the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2016. And many of the Patriots’ key pieces from their 12-4 showing last season remain in place. But there’s also plenty of uncertainty. “Uncharted waters for the Patriots [in terms of their Super Bowl odds],” says White. “They’re the seventh favorite to win it all, 20-1, a five percent odds to win the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick, he’s not used to that. They’re usually about six or seven to one, not 20-1.”
We’ll find out what this all means on Sunday. But according to White, these teams are “very evenly matched. The Dolphins-Patriots game opened with the Patriots minus seven. There are still sevens out in the market, but there are 6 1/2s as well. So with a 50-50 split in tickets, it looks like the professionals are leaning a little bit to the Dolphins Week 1 at plus seven.”
The Dolphins play the Patriots Sunday, September 13 @1:00 pm ET on CBS.
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