The stakes are pretty simple, really. Win good. Lose bad.
Win ... first place.
Lose ... last place.
Win, and the Dolphins will tie the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets for first place in the AFC East. Lose, and the Dolphins would be the only winless team in the division after one week. And they would be in last place.
No, that doesn't mean they will finish either first or last by the end of the season. But, clearly, this regular-season opener will be a table setter like few have been in recent years.
The Dolphins are 4-6 in season openers the past 10 seasons, but 2-6 the past eight years. The Patriots, not surprisingly, are much better right out of the gate. New England hasn't lost a season-opener since 2003. They are 8-2 in their last 10 season openers. And they've won two consecutive season openers on the road -- those coming in 2007 at the New York Jets and 2008 at Kansas City.
Yes, I get it and so should you, Bill Belichick typically has his team ready to play early in the season.
The question is will the Dolphins be ready?
Or will the table setter be a plate-breaking, entre-dropping, water-spilling disaster?