No matter the circumstance, the New England Patriots always find a way to make your heart stop year after year. The Patriots escaped with an instrumental first victory of the year versus the Arizona Cardinals 23-21, thanks to a valiant effort from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and head coach Bill Belichick and his staff. Even without Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady, the Patriots and Belichick were able to develop a solid game plan to beat Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and Bruce Arian’s high-powered Cardinals team. It came down to a missed field goal by Chandler Catanzaro and Patriot fans saw their team move to 1-0. Meanwhile, the rest of the AFC East competition lost on Sunday, launching the Patriots into first place to start the year.
Garoppolo completed 24 of 33 passes for a total of 264 yards and threw a beautiful first career touchdown to Chris Hogan to give the Patriots the lead. LeGarrette Blount was happy to be healthy in the backfield again, as he ran 22 times for a total of 70 yards and a touchdown. If you never had a doubt in your mind that the Patriots would win this one, then good for you, but I did. I did not think the Patriots could come out on top in this one and I know that ball could have easily gone through the uprights. Yet, it did not and now the Patriots are 1-0 as they head home for the next three games. Therefore, I applaud you Patriot fans, I really do.
Week 2 features the AFC rival Miami Dolphins making the trip to Foxborough as the Patriots open up Gillette Stadium for their 2016 campaign. The only downside to the home opener is not seeing number 12 behind center, something that hasn’t happened since Brady’s rookie season. Although, he will be at home watching the game and cheering on his team like he did the other night. With the tower sporting his number at the Gillette entrance, you know the dark knight is guarding his sanctuary. The Patriots are 13-1 in home openers since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002.
On the other hand, “Jimmy G” now has the confidence to succeed in the NFL and facing a Dolphins team that lost a flat and uninterested game against the Seattle Seahawks 12-10 last Sunday, expect the fish to be squished. The Patriots have a 4-2 record against the Dolphins in home openers. The last time they opened up at home against Miami was in 1990, where they lost 27-24. Expect this outcome to be much more lopsided in favor of Belichick’s squad. Since Belichick took over as head coach he has a 20-12 record against the Dolphins.
Led by Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins look to regain momentum with a win on Sunday against the Seahawks, Tannehill struggled to find open targets like number one wideout Jarvis Landry. Tannehill went 16 of 29 passing for only 186 yards. Newly acquired running back Arian Foster is someone the Patriots will have to watch out for seeing as they just let up 89 yards to the Cardinals’ David Johnson. Though Foster missed practice Wednesday, expect him to play Sunday at 1 p.m.
The biggest threat to the Patriots is the defensive line of the Dolphins led by Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, who had a sack in his first game of the season. Expect Garoppolo to be mobile. Rashad Jones leads a stealthy defensive back group that head coach Adam Gase will certainly use to his advantage in this one. If Rob Gronkowski is able to play, then this will be an easy win.
There is no question in my mind that the Patriots will win this football game. If they play at the pace they played last game and don’t sit back defensively for a Dolphins team that struggled to score in their first game, then the Patriots will win by 10 or more. For Garappolo and the rest of the New England Patriots, 2-0 seems humbling
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Ben Nawn is a senior majoring in communications. You can frequently find Ben broadcasting for UNH hockey and Football on 91.3FM WUNH Durham as well as on the weekly “Wildchats” sports talk radio show on Tuesday mornings and Thursday nights. Follow Ben on Twitter @nonawnsense.