CHANCE FOR REVENGE

The NFL is back in action this weekend, and the Dolphins are hoping they can pick up where they left off in their impressive season-opening victory at Tennessee.<p>What has become the season's second game is a test almost as formidable as winning at Adelphia Coliseum, with the defending AFC West champion Oakland Raiders coming to Pro Player Stadium.

Every Dolphins fan remembers what happened the last time these teams met, as Oakland ended Miami's season with a 27-0 rout. Raiders coach Jon Gruden knows the Dolphins will be out for some revenge.

What follows is a quick look at Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders

WHO: Miami Dolphins (1-0) vs. Oakland Raiders (1-0)

WHERE: Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Fla.

KICKOFF TIME: 1 p.m. ET

TELEVISION: CBS (Greg Gumbel, play-by-play; Phil Simms, color; Armen Keteyian, sidelines)

LINE: Miami by 1 ½

COACHES: Oakland, Jon Gruden (4th year); Miami, Dave Wannstedt (2nd year in Miami, 8th year in NFL)

SERIES RECORD: The Raiders lead 18-9-1 (Oakland has won three of four playoff meetings

LAST MEETING: 2000 at Oakland (AFC Divisional Playoffs); Raiders 27, Raiders 0

INJURIES: Dolphins — DT Tim Bowens (knee), S Trent Gamble (shoulder) are out; G Mark Dixon (back), LB Morlon Greenwood (foot), QB Ray Lucas (back), WR James McKnight (hand), WR Dedric Ward (foot), S Shawn Wooden (hamstring) are probable.

Raiders — DT Roderick Coleman (pectoral), SS Johnnie Harris (hamstring), T Lincoln Kennedy (shoulder) are questionable.

THREE MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

Dolphins tackle Todd Wade vs. Raiders defensive end Trace Armstrong: The Dolphins get to see Armstrong from the other side this time. Wade is a tremendous tackle, but he'll have his hands full with the nonstop Armstrong.

Raiders guard Steve Wisniewski vs. Dolphins defensive tackle Daryl Gardener: Two of the best in the business go head-to-head in a battle that could determine whether the Raiders have any success running the ball.

Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler vs. the Raiders secondary: Rest assured Fiedler remembers his momentum-swinging interception in the opening moments of last year's playoff game. Every Dolphins player wants to atone for last year's embarrassing loss, but probably nobody more so than Fiedler.

WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL: The Dolphins had success throwing the ball against a Tennessee defense that jammed the line of scrimmage and dared them to pass. Oakland doesn't play as aggressive a style of defense, so the Dolphins should be able to get better balance. Running back Lamar Smith was held to 4 yards on eight carries in last year's playoff meeting, but he has admitted this year that he had nothing left in that game after carrying the ball 40 times the previous week in the playoff victory over Indianapolis. Smith is fresh now, so there's reason to think he could have some success against Oakland. It's more likely, though, that the Dolphins could have success through the air. Kansas City was able to beat the Oakland secondary repeatedly on opening day. While Charles Woodson is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, his counterpart, Eric Allen, is on the downside of his career. And the safeties, Marquez Pope and Anthony Dorsett, are nothing special. The best battle up front should take place when the Dolphins are in an obvious passing situation and former Dolphin Trace Armstrong lines up opposite Todd Wade.

WHEN THE RAIDERS HAVE THE BALL: Oakland has been among the top rushing teams int the NFL the last couple of years, and that shouldn't change this year after the offseason acquisition of Charlie Garner. He will complement former Dolphin Tyrone Wheatley and give the Raiders perhaps the best 1-2 punch in the NFL. That means the Dolphins' run defense will be put to the test, particularly in light of the absence of defensive tackle Tim Bowens, who is sitting out the game while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. The Raiders also feature two future Hall of Famers at wide receiver in Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, but both players aren't as good as they used to be, and the feeling is that Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain should be able to handle them. Truth is, the biggest concern when the Raiders pass is quarterback Rich Gannon scrambling for first downs. The Dolphins will have to be disciplined in their pass rush and not overrun the pocket, otherwise Gannon could hurt them.

BOTTOM LINE:

This is a battle that should give us an indication of the pecking order in the AFC. The way the Dolphins went to Tennessee and dominated the Titans, there is no reason not to feel optimistic about Miami's chances in this game. If Week 1 was any indication, the Dolphins simply are a better team right now. One more thing, the Dolphins have won 14 consecutive home games during the month of September.


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