MIAMI DOLPHINS (0-0) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (0-0)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: Channel 7 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
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Line: Seahawks by 10½
The series: Dolphins lead all-time series 8-3. The last meeting was in Florida in November 2012, a 24-21 win for Miami. This is the Dolphins’ first game in Seattle since 2004, the Seahawks’ only win in five meetings over the last 20 years. This is also the farthest in-continent road trip in the NFL: 2,723 miles from the Dolphins’ home stadium to CenturyLink Field. Miami left for Thursday for Seattle, a day earlier than customary long NFL trips.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Hold that line: Whatever it ends up looking like. It’s been the story all offseason and preseason. And it got more so Wednesday when one of its apparent certainties, impressive rookie right guard Germain Ifedi, went out with a high-ankle sprain. Whether it’s previous backup right tackle J’Marcus Webb or whomever, Seattle will have four new starters on its offensive line against Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Miami’s rich, ballyhooed defensive front. An immediate test – and concern.
Get going early: Not just Sunday, in the Seahawks’ second season opener at home in six years, but this season. The early schedule – including at Los Angeles, versus San Francisco, at the Jets and home to Atlanta – is much more forgiving this year than last. That will go a long way to determining whether Seattle is playing at home or on the road should they reach its fifth consecutive postseason. Can’t give away games in September and October like they did last year if they are to get back to the Super Bowl.
Reed. And react: Miami is starting 30-year-old Arian Foster, the former Pro Bowl star with Houston, in his first game since an Achilles injury in October. The Dolphins want to use Foster and the run to temper the emotions of the Seahawks’ defense and the riled-up CenturyLink crowd, to make Ryan Tannehill’s passing more effective. Seattle drafted Jarran Reed in the second round to be the defensive tackle that doesn’t let running games get going, like Brandon Mebane did for nine years there before him. Reed is back from a toe injury to show how close he can be to Mebane’s effectiveness.
The pick: Seahawks 23-9. With his offensive line changed again and running back Thomas Rawls not yet at full production, Russell Wilson’s quick throws trumps Ryan Tannehill trying to move the ball against Seattle’s refreshed defense that returns nine starters.
3 -- Russell Wilson, QB (5-11, 215, fifth season): Iffy line again? He’s proven for four years he can make crazy, improvisational, decisive plays with or without blocking.
68 --- Justin Britt, C (6-6, 315, third season): First game in NFL at center against Miami’s formidable D-line. Or will Britt be the fill-in RG?
90 —Jarran Reed, DT (6-3, 311, rookie season): Watch how 2nd-round pick plays Brandon Mebane’s old position far differently. Quicker, potentially more disruptive in backfields.
65 — Anthony Steen, C (6-3, 315, first season): 3-time Pro Bowl stud Mike Pouncey is out (hip). Steen, a college guard, making NFL debut. Seattle’s D-line salivating.
93 — Ndamukong Suh, DT (6-4, 305, seventh season): $114-million man will be an issue for Seattle’s new line and fill-in right guard.
29 --- Arian Foster, RB (6-1, 227, eighth season): MIA left Jay Ajayi at home. So it’s 30-year-old Foster, playing his first game since October Achilles tear, to take Seattle’s heat off Tannehill.