Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-6.5)
Foxboro Stadium- 78 Degrees
Announcers: Greg Gumble and Trent Green
After a GUT WRENCHING defeat last week in Seattle, the Miami Dolphins stiff test continues as they travel to New England to battle the Patriots. Like many teams that head to New England, success is extremely difficult. In fact, New England has beaten Miami at home in every game since 2009, and is 20-1 against the division over the last 7 years. The one loss in a meaningless game against Buffalo a few years back.
There were many promising things last week, from the defense. They held Seattle out of the end zone until the final 30 seconds of the game. They beat and battered Russell Wilson all game. The offense on the other hand, had the same issues that plagued them last season. 21% third down conversions, 10 total points and no sustained drives until late. They also had a field goal chip shot blocked and a 71 yard easy TD pass dropped by Kenny Stills. Many of those mistakes led to losses, which was the case last week. Here is another game where the offense needs to pick up the slack. Here are my keys to success going into New England:
1. Hit Jimmy early and often- Arizona failed to do this last week and Jimmy Garopolo was very efficient in their victory last week. Miami beat up Russell Wilson last week. Effectively apply pressure to force the issue and make plays on defense. I truly believe if they can win the turnover battle on the road this week, good things can come from it.
2. Sustain drives- teams lose to New England because they cannot sustain long drives and keep their offense on the sideline. 21% third down conversions last week needs to improve this week to avoid an 0-2 start. Manageable third downs will also help.
3. Minimize mental errors- The Dolphins were tortured last week for mental errors. Kenny Stills dropped an easy 71 yard TD dime from Tannehill, a chip shot field goal was blocked due to lack of blocking up front and last but not least, could not convert 4th and inches with a poor play call in my opinion. Take points when you can get them and execute with minimal drops.
4. Stop Edelman- He is the key to success for this offense if Gronkowski is out. He is Wes Welker 2.0. He catches everything and McDaniel will exploit every weakness on defense in getting him the football in space. Bobby McCain will have his hands full in this game and it is going to take a great game from the LB to keep him in check.
5. Run the football- you will see this as a running theme from me until they actually succeed. Foster had an overall great game but 2.9 yards per carry will not get it done. With Ajayi back in the line up this week (maybe), will provide a little more punch in the ground game. I would also like to see more play calls for Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake.
If you read my article for game by game predictions, you will remember I had the Dolphins winning this game in an upset. After last week’s defensive performance, and lack thereof offensively, I am unsure where I want to go. Lets take a look at match ups:
Miami OL vs Pats DL (advantage NE)
Miami DL vs Pats OL (advantage MIA)
Coaching (advantage NE)
WR (advantage MIA)
I truly believe this game will be tight. I will still give the nod to the Dolphins based on match up. As long as they can get after Jimmy G and force him to make mistakes, Dolphins edge it out and come home 1-1
Miami 23 NE 21
Season Record (1-0)