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Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots: What to watch

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The Miami Dolphins didn’t start their season on a positive note. With their 12-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at home, the Dolphins didn’t play mistake free football. On both sides of the football, there was some positive to build on. Early mistakes cost the Dolphins, but the team was able to come roaring back in the fourth quarter to take the lead. It was a short-lived affair for the Dolphins as an injured Russell Wilson showed them how winning is done.

New England, on the other hand, may have found their quarterback of the future. Jimmy Garroppolo started the Pats season 1-0. His play was enough to keep them afloat until suspended quarterback; Tom Brady can return to action. New England faced a tough Arizona team but lived up to the test. A divisional game this week, so each team may have their hands full.

Advantage Miami:

Offensively Miami should have a much better game. The Seahawks stingy defense held the Dolphins to just 64 yards on 20 attempts(3.2 ypc). Although New England is one of the top teams in the league, their defense didn’t hold the line as well. As a whole, the Cardinals ran 19 times for 92 yards, and running back David Johnson was 16 for 89 yards(5.6 ypc). With Jay Ajayi back in the mix, Miami might run the ball a bit more. With Arian Foster having a history with injuries, Miami ultimately won’t push him to be a workhorse at his age. With the offense showing it can throw the ball downfield again last week, look for the Dolphins to keep the Pats closer to the line of scrimmage to set up those big plays.

A late 4th quarter drive to take the lead shows Miami’s passing game can get it done when needed. From Arian Foster’s 50 yard gain to Damien Williams 29 yard gain in the 4th quarter, Miami’s running backs ate up yards in the passing game. Against the Pats the trend should continue as New England allowed 8.5 per catch to running backs.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill shook off Kenny Stills first quarter drop and that play won’t define Stills’ season. On Miami’s only touchdown drive, Tannehill hit Stills for 16 yards and look for their connection to continue throughout the season. If Miami can get Devante Parker healthy to play Sunday, there should be no shortage of playmakers. The Patriots defense allowed 271 yards through the air, created zero turnovers, but did have 3 sacks. Look for Gase to open the playbook a little more against New England, as Miami can’t fall too far in divisional play.

Defensively Miami kept the Seahawks on their toes. The Dolphins were in the face of quarterback Russell Wilson most of the game, creating 3 sacks and 2 turnovers. Showing up on the road, the defense held Seattle to just 3.5 yards per carry. Although the passing game was a little better for the Seahawks, the defense held Wilson to 6.0 yards per attempt. Not an easy task for a unit such as Seattle’s offense who is known for their big plays. Look for Miami to have continued success going into hostile territory. The Patriots put the ball on the ground 3 times against the Cardinals, losing 2. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo accounted for 2 of those fumbles so look for Miami to keep the pressure on.

Advantage New England

Offensively, the Patriots lost nothing without Tom Brady. Garoppolo was 24/33 for 263 yards and a touchdown. While those numbers aren’t much to write home about, keep in mind the Patriots were without Rob Gronkowski. Martellus If Gronk returns this week, look for the Dolphins to be in trouble and Garoppolo’s numbers to improve. New England also enjoyed great success in the passing game without him. Three receivers averaged 16 yards or better, and playmaker Danny Amendola 9.4. Against the Seahawks, rookie Xavien Howard was tested multiple times with mixed success. Expect the Patriots to follow the same game plan and continue to go after the rookie.

Defensively the Patriots struggled against the run. However, with their own 3 sacks, the defense caused Carson Palmer to fumble once himself. New England should bring all the pressure they have against the Miami Dolphins’ rebuilt offensive line. While the unit has improved, Miami’s line wasn’t without their faults. Bill Belichick often does a great job exposing teams weaknesses and will test the rookie Laremy Tunsil. Sacks have always been an issue for the Dolphins as well, so the Pats will blitz often. Defensively, New England didn’t create turnovers and will look to rebound this week. If Miami can’t find a way to keep Ryan Tannehill on the move or out of pressure situations, it could get ugly.

With the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins all losing on Sunday, both New England and Miami need this win. If the Pats win, then they’ll be 2-0 without starter Tom Brady and 1-0 in the division. The Bills and Jets play Thursday night this week. With each team playing division rivals, half the division will start in a 0-1 hole come Sunday’s end. Unfortunately for the Dolphins that’s a good news/bad news situation. If they lose there’s plenty of games to come back from but starting the season, 0-2 will cause an uphill battle for the division. Look for a few big plays to be dusted off and teams to pull out all the stops.

Neither Bill Belichick or Adam Gase are the type to let a divisional game get too lopsided. Miami vs. New England could have the game of the week implications and should be fun for fans to watch.

However, Miami should squeak this one out 21-20 this week in a statement game. Sunday’s game is scheduled for a 1 pm EST start time on CBS.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]