A roundup of how ESPN's analysts see Monday night’s Patriots-Dolphins season opener playing out:
* ESPNBoston.com Patriots analyst Tedy Bruschi: Patriots 27, Dolphins 21. With the first game of the season, you're talking about the unknown. The Dolphins have been preparing for this game for a long time. Sideline adjustments will be critical. Recognizing what game-plan formations and defenses the Dolphins show, then having the ability to make the proper adjustments and get them relayed to the players on the sideline in between offensive or defensive series will be key. This game will be tight.
* ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss: Patriots 24, Dolphins 17. A tougher game than anticipated, similar to the 2009 season opener against the Bills on a Monday night. The Dolphins are big and physical on defense, so the Patriots' offensive line -- which showed some vulnerability in the preseason -- will be key. Can it hold up?
* ESPNBoston.com columnist Jackie MacMullan: Patriots 27, Dolphins 21. Although the Patriots’ offense is a work in progress, it still has enough weapons to beach the Fins.
* ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg: Patriots 27, Dolphins 10. After all the hub-bub about the early-September heat in Miami, this one turns out to be no sweat for the Patriots, who get an immediate spark from the revamped defensive line.
* ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Rodak: Patriots 27, Dolphins 17. The Patriots' new-look defense still has some question marks (safety, pass rush), but this will be the first time the Dolphins get a chance to see it in action. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne's struggles carry over from last season, while Tom Brady, Chad Ochocinco, and the Patriots' offense open it up in the passing game. The Dolphins almost always give the Patriots a run for their money in Miami, but the Patriots weather the storm and open with their first divisional win of the season.
* ESPN Boston Radio’s Adam Jones: Patriots 21, Dolphins 17. I say the Patriots win, but it won't be easy. Miami is stout defensively and has a running back that can create matchup problems in Reggie Bush. Plus, the Dolphins will be playing at home against a divisional opponent on Monday Night Football (granted, it's Miami, but still). However, the Patriots are too talented on offense to hold in check for four quarters. They may start slow, but I ultimately expect them to pull out the win.
* ESPN Boston Radio’s Drew Brooks: Patriots 24, Dolphins 13. The Patriots offense will have no problem overpowering the Dolphins D and we won't wait long for Ochocinco's first touchdown in a Patriots uniform. I expect the Patriots to score early, forcing the Dolphins to play from behind, which will allow the Pats defense to get after Henne and force him into bad decisions.
* Grantland’s Bill Simmons: Patriots (-7) over Dolphins. Remove my homersexuality from the equation … it's fair to call the 2011 Patriots the ultimate "continuity" team, right? Thanks for agreeing with me. I appreciate that. As for the Dolphins, let's forget about Chad Henne's shortcomings for a second (and they're significant); am I the only one who remembers Miami's owner chasing Jim Harbaugh last winter, not pulling it off, then awkwardly going into, "Look, that wasn't a reflection of how I felt about Tony Sparano at all, I was just sniffing around" mode? If I'm a Dolphins player, that little saga told me that my coach is on thinner than thin ice. As we saw with Wade Phillips, Brad Childress and even Jeff Fisher last season, once the players smell blood in the water, it's over.
* ESPN experts: Seven of the eight pick the Patriots. Only Chris Mortensen picks the Dolphins to win.
* Sunday Countdown: Keyshawn Johnson, Tom Jackson, Mike Ditka and Cris Carter pick the Patriots.
* Madden 12 simulation: Patriots 27, Dolphins 17. After a slow preseason, a lot of people are wondering what Chad Ochocinco still has left in the tank. Well, if the "Madden" simulation is any indication, look for Ochocinco to bounce back to his Pro Bowl self. Chad caught eight passes for 119 yards and one touchdown against the Dolphins, including a 21-yard score with only 27 seconds left in the first half that gave New England a commanding 20-7 lead.
* Gary Horton, Scouts Inc. (Insider): Patriots 20, Dolphins 10
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* What's your prediction for Patriots-Dolphins? Leave it in the comments section of this blog post.