Can Dolphins Pull Off the Upset?

In the NFL debut of Coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins hardly could have drawn a tougher assignment than the Houston Texans — on the road no less. Houston is considered by most one of the favorites in the AFC in 2012 and the Dolphins will go into this game as the biggest underdogs on opening day. But is a victory impossible? Stranger things have happened.

We only have to look back at the first-ever game between these two teams, which also happened to be a season opener.

That was in 2003 when the Dolphins were coming off a 9-7 season with Ricky Williams leading the league in rushing and Houston was beginning only its second year in the NFL.

On top of that, the Dolphins had won 11 consecutive openers, which was the second-longest streak in NFL history.

Dolphins fans remember what happened that day, as a late Jay Fiedler interception set up Kris Brown's game-winning field goal for a stunning 21-20 Houston victory.

Or you can look back more recently to 2009 and another season opener, this one between those same Texans and the New York Jets.

Just like the Dolphins are doing Sunday, New York went into Houston with a new head coach (Rex Ryan) and a new quarterback (Mark Sanchez).

What happened? The Jets left Houston with a 24-7 victory.

Now, those two examples aren't meant to suggest the Dolphins will win Sunday. Make no mistake, it will take a near-flawless effort for Miami to beat a Houston team that clearly is more talented.

But, again, it's not impossible.

Right from the start, the Dolphins might catch a break with both running back Arian Foster and linebacker Brooks Reed considered question marks.

Houston has another talented running back in Ben Tate, but the ability to keep a fresh back in the game at all times is lost if Foster can't play.

On offense, the Dolphins obviously need to avoid turnovers. They also need to use a lot of quick passing to neutralize a very, very good Houston pass rush — even if Reed doesn't play.

This is a game where a quick screen to Reggie Bush becoming a big play really could come into play.

The one area of concern for Houston is the kicking game after promising rookie Randy Bullock was lost in the preseason with a hamstring injury. The Texans have turned to Shayne Graham, a veteran who is solid but doesn't have great range.

So if somehow the game comes down to a field goal, the Dolphins clearly have the edge with Dan Carpenter.

Finally, there's the law of averages. Houston has won all six meetings between the teams, starting with that 2003 opener, and at some point the Dolphins are going to end that skid.

Logic says that won't happen this year, but Week 1 always produces its share of stunners.

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