By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are coming off of an impressive 49-19 away victory against the the New York Jets. The Pats will be looking for a continuation of positive results as they head to Miami to play the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.
WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live Sunday on WBZ-TV at 1:00 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
GAME NOTES: The Dolphins are coming off of a 24-21 home victory against the Seattle Seahawks. The home team are currently 5-6, and still have an outside chance to make the playoffs.
On defense, the Dolphins are solid and are only giving up 20.5 points per game, which is ninth in the NFL. They are tough to run against as they are seventh in the NFL, only giving up 96.7 yards per game. However, they are vulnerable in the passing game, as they are surrendering 261.7 yards per game, and that is 26th in the NFL.
On defense, there is one player that stands out the most and that is defense end Cameron Wake, who already has 9.5 sacks this season. This the one defender the Patriots offensive line will need to contain in this game.
On offense, the Dolphins are led by rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who seems to get better each week. He has a very good running back behind him in Reggie Bush, and also has a reliable receiver in Davone Bess who already has 55 receptions. This unit is a work in progress, but one not to take lightly by the Patriots defense.
The Patriots dominated the Jets ten days ago, but going to Miami is always a tough task. The Patriots have two extremely difficult games coming up, and need to take care of business on Sunday.
Here are my “five keys” which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.
1. The Patriots defense needs to take away Davone Bess in this game, Bess is really a possession receiver, similar to Wes Welker, and already has become a huge weapon for his quarterback. The Patriots need to limit his receptions in this game.
2. The Patriots defense needs to disguise their coverages to possibly cause mistakes by the Dolphins quarterback. Tannehill has thrown 12 interceptions, and only has 7 touchdown passes. He is vulnerable to make mistakes, and the Patriots have been excellent with causing turnovers.
3.The Patriots offensive line needs to contain Cameron Wake. This player can disrupt an offense, and it could take a team effort to keep him quiet. I wouldn’t be shocked to see tackle Nate Solder get some help from a tight end to make sure Wake is limited in this game.
4. Tight end Aaron Hernandez needs to have a big game for the Patriots. Without Rob Gronkowski, you could see Hernandez become a serious focus of Brady in the passing game. Hernandez is probably still not back to 100 per cent, but I have a feeling this could be his breakout game.
5. The Hurry Up Offense should be used early and often to get up on the Dolphins. The Dolphins only score 19.2 points per game, which is 26th in the NFL. I think if you establish a fast pace in this game, it will not only tire out an aggressive defense, but help the Patriots to get ahead of the Dolphins. I can’t see the home team being able to come back from a decent size deficit.
I know many fans are worried about the Patriots playing in Miami because in the past it has been a difficult place to play for the team and Tom Brady. However, I think there is too much on the line for the Patriots to not take the Dolphins seriously. I expect to see the Patriots play at a high level, and pull away in the third quarter. I am predicting a 31-17 victory for the Patriots against the Dolphins.
What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.
Also, please feel free to listen to a preview of the upcoming game from the radio show Patriots Fourth And Two.