Monday Night Football: Patriots-Dolphins and Raiders-Broncos kick it off

Monday Night Football kicks off the 2011 season with the Dolphins hosting the Patriots and the Raiders facing the Broncos. ESPN recently announced an extension of their Monday Night Football television deal with the NFL, worth some $15 billion.

Hans Deryk/AP
Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, gestures before during an NFL pre season football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Thursday, Sept. 1, in Miami. The Dolphins host the Patriots as another season of Monday Night Football begins.

Monday Night Football begins its 42nd season tonight with an AFC East matchup between the defending division champ New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. There is a second Monday night AFC game this evening, featuring the Oakland Raiders at the Denver Broncos.

Monday marks the debut of new Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Newly acquired Pats defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is listed as 'questionable' due to illness.

The Dolphins also feature some new faces, including former Saints running back Reggie Bush.

Last season, the Patriots defeated Miami twice on their way to the AFC East title. A possible stumbling block tonight for reigning NFL MVP Tom Brady and the New England offense will be starting tackle Sebastian Vollmer out of the lineup, due to injury.

Bill Belichick, entering his 12th season as Pats head coach, is looking for improvement from his defensive squad. Former Redskin Haynesworth, acquired in a trade during the offseason, is expected to help bolster the Patriots pass rush.

Later tonight in Denver, the Broncos, under new head coach John Fox, host a AFC West division rival in the Raiders. Oakland is also featuring a new head coach in Hue Jackson.

Quarterbacks have been in the spotlight for both teams recently. The Broncos will start Kyle Orton, though second-year pro Tim Tebow got most of the press in the off-season.

The Raiders will start former Redskin Jason Campbell under center. Oakland, by way of the supplemental draft earlier this summer, also has disgraced former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor on their roster. The NFL, however, suspended Pryor for the team's first five games for violating NCAA rules, though the penalty is under appeal.

Monday Night Football can be seen on ESPN, which just last week announced they would be broadcasting MNF for the next eight seasons, paying the NFL close to $15 billion to continue the association.

Tonight's football doubleheader begins at 7 p.m. ET.

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