After a much-hyped offseason, the Miami Dolphins will travel to face the Cleveland Browns in their regular-season debut. This is an important game for Miami to set the tone for the start of the 2013 season.
Here are three things to watch from Miami's perspective:
1. Can the Dolphins be road warriors?
The Dolphins were 2-6 on the road last season. This year three of their first four games are on the road. Is this a recipe for disaster? The 2012 Dolphins had problems taking care of the football and forcing turnovers on the road. That made it very tough for Miami to pull out road games in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins have been diligent in changing that trend this offseason. Creating turnovers, ball security and improving in the red zone have been focuses in training camp. We will see if that pays off Sunday against an excited Browns team playing in their home opener.
2. Will Miami stuff Browns running back Trent Richardson?
Expect some big-boy football between the Dolphins and Browns. Cleveland will try to establish its will by running the ball with Richardson behind a physical offense line. And Miami’s front seven is very talented and takes a lot of pride in stopping the run. Something has to give. The Dolphins have been very complimentary of Richardson and expect a physical battle in the trenches. Controlling the line of scrimmage will be key for both teams.
3. Who wins the quarterback battle?
I don’t expect this to be an offensive shootout. But at some point, either Ryan Tannehill or Brandon Weeden will have to make key plays for his team to win this game. The front seven on defense is a strength for both teams. Tannehill and Weeden, both first-round picks in 2012, will have to prove they can win with their arm. I expect a close game, and the quarterback who makes the big plays in the second half most likely will win this game.