Dolphins vs Browns NFL Week 1 Predicting the Match Ups

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns are just a few hours away from kickoff in the NFL's opening weekend. How do the two teams matchup? We take a look.

The Miami Dolphins have a tough schedule to start the 2013 season.  Three of their first five games are on the road and three are against 2012 playoff games including the defending Super Bowl Champions.  This week could be the easiest opponent the Dolphins see before their Week 6 bye, and the Cleveland Browns aren't easy.  How do the Dolphins match up against the Browns?  Let's take a look.

Match up Advantage Remarks
Dolphins passing offense vs. Cleveland pass defense Mia_tiny_medium
The Browns have top hope that their pass rush shows up today, as their secondary is the weak part of the defense.  Joe Haden has historical success covering Mike Wallace, so that could be the one bright spot against the Miami passing attack for Cleveland.

Cleveland is excited to have Ray Horton as their new defensive coordinator.  Last season, Horton held that same position with the Arizona Cardinals, only to see Ryan Tannehill throw for 431 yards, 253 of them to Brian Hartline, including his one touchdown catch on the year.  That doesn't bode well for the Browns, even if Horton looks to chaneg up some things this week.
Dolphins rushing offense vs. Cleveland run defense Cle_tiny_medium
Miami has to prove that Lamar Miller can be a "feature" back, while Daniel Thomas has to prove he can stay healthy.  While the secondary for Cleveland is the weak point, their defensive line is clearly the strength, even as they adjust to the 3-4 after using the 4-3 last year.  Defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was a great addition in free agency.  Miami's offensive line is going to have their hands full trying to find rushing lanes today.
Browns passing offense vs. Miami pass defense Mia_tiny_medium
Josh Gordon is out of today's game.  That means Miami's top cornerback, Brent Grimes, will be responsible for Greg Little or Davone Bess most of the day, which should be a win.  Add in the Miami pass rush, which will be coming fro mall over the field, and the Dolphins should be able to rattle Brandon Weeden early.
Browns rushing offense vs. Miami run defense Mia_tiny_medium
The Browns offensive line is impressive, and should be able to find running lanes all year long for second year rusher Trent Richardson.  However, as impressive as the Miami pass rush should be this season, the strength of the Dolphins' defense should continue to be shutting down the run.  This could be strength on strength throughout the game.

Until the Dolphins face a team with a special running game, Miami's run defense should have the edge.
Dolphins special teams vs. Cleveland special teams PUSH This one is way too close to call.  Cleveland was great in punt returns last year, while Miami has one of the best punters in the game in Brandon Fields.  Fields could prevent Travis Benjamin from getting going on returns. Both Cleveland (Billy Cundiff) and Dolphins (Caleb Sturgis) will be using new kickers this week, so the advantage here probably goes to the winds coming off Lake Erie

Prediction:

The Dolphins seem to have a slight edge as both teams look to improve on disappointing 2012 seasons.  The Dolphins should come out on top, but this game will probably be closer than any of us would like.  Final: Miami 24-21.

More Dolphins Coverage:

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