The New England Patriots have completed the 2014 preseason, cut the roster down to size, and now are turning full attention to their first game of the season this Sunday in Miami against the AFC East rival Dolphins. The Dolphins are coming off a string of disappointing seasons, failing to finish over .500 since 2008. Last year they hung-on for an 8-8 record after starting 3-0 with high hopes for knocking off New England.
Now the Patriots head to Miami and the stifling heat and humidity of South Florida with a gift from Mother Nature as the weather in New England over Labor Day weekend was a perfect match for the expected conditions on Sunday. A weekend of practice in these conditions is an unexpected bonus for head coach Bill Belichick and his staff as they ready to be tested in week one.
As with most teams heading into week one of the regular season both squads are confident and their fan-base’s are expecting the season opener to be a springboard to success in 2014. Here is a first look at five key matchups to monitor on Sunday that will swing the barometer of success to the squad winning the game.