Friday, September 10, 2004

Week 1: Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins (9/11/04)

The first of eight home regular season games takes place tomorrow afternoon at 1:00. The game was moved up from Sunday due to fears related to Hurricane Ivan.

Those who don't frequent games often have a hard time understanding our routine. Ideally, we leave Jupiter at exactly 7:00 for a 1:00 kickoff. That leaves six hours to prepare for gametime. We try to be there by 9:00 when gates first open. For each game last season, we parked the now defunct Lincoln in Row 32 East, Camry Zone.

I feel bad for my cousin, whom I invited to the game. He had a friend coming in from Daytona Beach. He couldn't arrive until 11:00. I can compromise my time a bit, but 11:00 would leave us likely missing a quarter of action. Gary told me that 9:00 would be acceptable to still get there in decent time.

There are some definite drawbacks to leaving so early. There is about three hours of idle time to fill, and that's not counting the noon-1:00 period when we enter the Pro. Last year, we had friends to sit and talk with. I'm hoping to hear back from them this evening or early in the morning. I don't mind the wait, but it can be tough for those not used to the pregame high jinks.

Basically, the time between 11:00 and 12:00 is absolute hell for arrival. That's when a sizable chunk of the fanbase decides to arrive. There would be trouble entering and more importantly massive delays departing. I trust Gary when he says 9:00 is the latest possible time for departure.

Now, here are my thoughts on opening day. This game is truly a toss-up, even if all the experts have gone with the visiting team. There's no way to predict how the short week will effect the proceedings. Miami has some very worrysome problems to deal with. FB Rob Konrad, already questionable for Sunday, is unlikely to be ready for Saturday. DT Tim Bowens is already listed as inactive. There's probably not enough time for newly acquired Lamar Gordon to learn the system. All of this makes a Dolphins victory less than a sure thing for Opening Day.

There are some long-term positives to hang your hat on. Lamar Gordon, acquired this week from St. Louis, is big enough at 6'4" to be remotely durable. The preseason showed us that Travis Minor is not even a short-term fix for this team. Marty Booker, once he becomes completely comfortable with the system, has 100 + catch potential. Of course, in this offense it might not be possible to amass those totals. Miami also acquired DL Bryan Robinson, late of the Bears, to upgrade their defensive front. The loss of Ogunleye makes it pivotal for the likes of David Bowens, Jeff Zsgonina, Jay Williams, and Robinson to upgrade their level of play.

My prediction: This Dolphins team will eventually grow to be mediocre. Tomorrow, it'll be very rough for the Dolphins. Winning ugly is all we can hope for. I hope I'm not being overly pessimistic. I've been fairly negative lately on my two franchises of note, John Kerry and the Miami Dolphins. Nevertheless, this team has too many flaws to defeat Tennesee, a partcipant in last year's AFC playoffs. The offense will leave much to be desired. Only Jay Fiedler's superb mobility could keep us in this affair. I cede that A.J. Feeley or the Brian Griese of last year would get devastated by Tennessee's pass rush. Fiedler does have the ability to ellude defenders and possibly avoid costly fumbles. His inability to avoid the big INT is another story. I cannot see how this offensive line and current cast of RB's can total more than 100 yards combined. A 300 + yard effort by Fiedler may be what Miami needs to emerge victorious.

Tennessee returns a solid offense led by last year's co-MVP Steve McNair. Eddie George is gone at RB, replaced by veteran Antowain Smith and Chris Brown. George may have been a big name, but his yards-per-carry was very poor last season. Tennessee concluded that George was not worthy of his marquee salary anymore. That being said, I'd still like to have seen George in a Miami uniform. The rest of the offense is the same, including the OL and receivers. It'll be interesting to see how the loss of Jevon Kearse affects the pass rush of Tennessee.

Miami won't get blown out of this game. They have too solid a defense, even without Bowens, to fall victim to humiliation. We'll see a lot of Matt Turk punting for Miami and his counterpart, pro-Bowler Craig Hentrich of Tennessee. I'd put the over/under at a little over 30 points. Olindo Mare will have to convert every makeable FG to stay close. In the end, Miami will be able to eek out a victory. It'll be of the 10-7 or 14-13 variety. Hopefully I'm not being overly naive. All my instincts tell me to pick Tennessee ugly. My heart leads me to conclude that Miami shows much of the pride that was lacking in last year's Week 1 disaster versus Houston.

TSIAS Pick: Miami Dolphins 13, Tennessee Titans 10

Special Week 1 Prediction: Hopefully, there won't be any grotesque 9/11 tributes. I don't mind talking about the victims and such. I certainly hope not to have to witness our supreme overlord, George Walker Bush, addressing the fans on the big screen. I'll accept the flags and occasional invocation my the clergy. I'm wondering whether I should wear one of my Democratic shirts just to piss off the faithful.


Blogger Eric Cioffoletti said...

I must disagree. Although all of your points are valid, how can you still think a Miami victory is feasible. Yeah, they are a good opening day team but even their beloved defense will be shaky in this one.

I think Tennessee will win by like 21-10.

September 11, 2004 at 3:28 AM  
Blogger tsias said...

Why do I think Miami can win?

This team has a defense comparable to anybody else in the league. It might take a defensive score or two in order to win.

September 11, 2004 at 7:03 AM  

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