The Miami Dolphins will start this 2022 campaign hosting the New England Patriots. A Patriots team with high expectations from the media and the fans saw their season come crashing to the ground against a better prepared and built team in the Buffalo Bills. A team as touted and prepared on paper also was swept by a struggling and drama-riddled Miami Dolphins. Miami is poised to not only repeat the success against their division rivals but start off the right way with a home win against the Patriots. Much like last season, the Dolphins will be in a prime position to immediately gain momentum with an early-season win.
By looking at the numbers and circumstances from last year, the Dolphins already appear on paper to be more equipped to handle division match-ups and improve upon a surge in success in a historically bad decade for the Miami Dolphins. In the 2021 season, Tua Tagovailoa battled injury and a coach that may or may not have wanted him to be the team’s starter. Mac Jones was immediately seen as the franchise quarterback replacing Cam Newton and was given plays to benefit the players’ traits in New England. These plays included a heavy run offense and passing routes that were meant to aid a pocket passer in timing and options.
Tua Tagovailoa dealt with an abysmal offensive line unit and tried to establish a Run, Pass Option (RPO) style offense without a running game or a running back that could handle a block when the need occurred. Taken at face value eliminating all elements of team injuries and attempts by either team to make mid-season adjustments, I feel it is safe to say that most fans from either team can safely imply that the Patriots were better prepared to succeed in the division well as dominate the Miami Dolphins.
I am proud to say that the Patriots failed to stop the Dolphins, and Miami has shown resilience and grit in battling it out in the division. Given Miami’s stout defense (now with the addition of Melvin Ingram), Jones will have a tough time sitting in the pocket, attempting to pick apart the defense. Last year Mac Jones ranked number sixteen on the quarterback’s list at the end of the season while Tua Tagovailoa ranked twenty-two. However, diving into the numbers, Jones played all eighteen games while Tua, in part to injury and coaching decisions, only played thirteen games. Jones had a 68.3 completion percentage, and Tua had 68.7 percent. Jones had 15 interceptions and seven fumbles, and Tua had ten interceptions and nine fumbles.
According to the Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Patriots had the 6th-ranked offensive line while the Miami Dolphins were ranked the worst at 32nd. Looking at the dramatic difference in lines, Mac Jones did not perform very well in the offense, while I would argue Tua did well given the offensive line he had to deal with. The Miami Dolphins have added a great receiving corps in Jaylen Waddle, Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson Jr., Erik Ezukanma, and Lynn Bowden Jr. They also added Terron Armstead and Connor Williams to boost the offensive line. The Patriots lack the type of speed Miami now possesses and reliable hands, and they will have to rely on a heavy-run game.
Comparing the two offenses, I will give the upper hand to the Miami Dolphins, assuming Mike McDaniel’s offense performs as expected. Comparing the defenses, the Patriots statistically ranked higher than the Dolphins; however, most of that rank came from yards allowed and penalties. Miami allowed fewer points against than New England allowed for the season. Factoring in Miami’s additions in the off-season, I believe they will perform better than New England for the season.
I fully expect the Miami Dolphins to triumph at home to start the season with much less struggle than we saw in 2021 when Miami narrowly won in Foxborough at Gillette Stadium. My prediction for this game is a 27-10 victory for the Miami Dolphins. Next week I will dive into the match-up and projection for the Miami Dolphins in week 2 of the 2022 season, the Baltimore Ravens.