MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – On Sunday, New England plays Miami's Dolphins.
Before that, the Patriots will take on Miami's heat.
High temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-60s to mid-70s around Foxborough, Massachusetts, for the next few days — and the way Patriots coach Bill Belichick sees it, those might not be the best atmospheric conditions to prepare his team for the steaminess that awaits them in South Florida on Sunday when New England and Miami kick off the regular season.
So the Patriots are flying south Tuesday, practicing this week in Palm Beach County, an hour or so from the Dolphins' facilities. High temperatures there this week will reach the low 90s each day, and the forecast for game day calls for more of the same — low 90s, lots of humidity, and with regard to Belichick's preferred sideline apparel choice, hoodies might not be the ideal selection.
“They better SPF up," Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said.
Sunscreen — likely of the high SPF variety — will surely be packed among all the gear the Patriots will be bringing south for the trip. It's not a totally foreign concept for New England to take its game-week show on the road; the Patriots spent a week in Las Vegas last month before facing the Raiders there in a preseason game.
“I think there are a combination of factors, but in the end it all looks like it’s set up fairly well here," Belichick said. “So, make the travel on Tuesday instead of on Saturday. We’ll already be down there. We’ll be able to just focus on the Dolphins."
In recent years, even for a perennial winner such as the Patriots, trips to the Sunshine State — where summer doesn't end just because pumpkin spice everything has hit stores — haven't always gone to New England's liking, and weather may have been a factor in some of those outcomes.
New England is 3-8 in its past 11 regular-season games played in Florida, including losses by double-digit margins twice — a 97-degree day at Jacksonville in 2018, and an 89-degree day at Miami Gardens in 2014.
“It’s going to be great for guys to get acclimated to that heat,” Patriots defensive lineman Davon Godchaux, a former Dolphins player — who knows how different the conditions are in South Florida — told reporters in Foxborough last week. “It’s either going to be a hot one down there or it’s going to be raining."
Perhaps both. Forecasters also say it's better than 50-50 that rain falls Sunday.
“I don’t think myself nor Coach Belichick — I don’t want to speak for him — but I think that’s just a component that he’s trying to help his team get prepared for that game, but it’s not the entirety of it," McDaniel said. “I feel very lucky, almost overly lucky, that I get to work on my tan all the time. I’m sure there’s a lot of players and coaches for the Patriots (who'll) be excited to, you know, bronze up a little bit before the TV regular season starts. I know that for a fact that if you don’t put sunscreen on you will get bronzed."
The Dolphins were holding their in-stadium celebration of the life of Jason Jenkins on Monday. Jenkins spent nearly 14 years with the Dolphins and eventually became the team’s senior vice president of communications. He died unexpectedly on Aug. 27 at the age of 47.
Jenkins is survived by his wife, Liz, and their three children. His passing is still very difficult for McDaniel to process.
“You just try to lean on the people that you love and care about, and try to really lean on each other as a team and put your best foot forward," McDaniel said. “But that feeling doesn’t go away."
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