Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Early preview of Week 1 matchups
By James Walker
NFL football will return in about one month when the Miami Dolphins take on the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 3. That means the regular season also is just around the corner.
With that in mind, let's take an early peek at Week 1 matchups and see which AFC East teams are best positioned to get off to a fast start.
No. 1: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Storylines: This is a big game to kick off the AFC East season. The Patriots have owned the Bills over the years. However, Buffalo may be catching New England at the right time. The Patriots are reeling after back and arm surgeries to Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is questionable for Week 1, and cutting star tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was charged for murder and faces five additional gun charges. New England also will be using a new cast of receivers around quarterback Tom Brady this year, and it could take time to get on the same page. Considering the excitement of a home opener and first game under new Bills coach Doug Marrone, this could be a tricky first game for New England.
Very early favorite: Patriots
No. 2: Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns
Storylines: This is an underrated game involving two young teams with a lot to prove. It also involves an interesting battle of two second-year quarterbacks: Miami's Ryan Tannehill and Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden. These were two players from the famed 2012 quarterback class that few people talk about on a national scale. The new-look Dolphins spent more than $200 million in free agency and need to get off to a fast start amid high expectations. Miami also will get to face former Dolphins receiver Davone Bess, who was traded to Cleveland this spring.
Very early favorite: Dolphins
No. 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets
Storylines: This game will be hyped by the fact that star cornerback Darrelle Revis is expected to make his Tampa debut and return to New York against the Jets. It’s a perfect recipe for disaster if you're the Jets. New Jets general manager John Idzik traded Revis to their Week 1 opponent, and Revis gets a chance to kick off New York’s season with a loss. Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith have not provided any optimism in organized team activities and minicamp that they can attack Revis. Jets head coach Rex Ryan is in a must-win year and has to come up with a wise strategy.
Very early favorite: Buccaneers