The Patriots have had ten days to prepare to face the Dolphins and will be enjoying time away from the nor’easter snowstorm and basking in the South Florida warmth on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Patriots haven’t played like they enjoy being in Florida. They’ve played some of their sloppiest football in South Beach.
For the first time in two decades, Miami has the more talented team than New England and Brian Flores is putting together an excellent program. They are there yet, but this is a team that is trending upward. His team has bought in and they are definitely in line for a playoff berth.
This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Charles Davis as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.
The Patriots have met the Dolphins 110 times with Miami holding a slight 56-54 edge. The teams have split the season series the last three years. New England won the first meeting in Foxboro and a chance to sweep the season series for the 11th time.
The Patriots (6-7) lost to the Los Angles Rams on Thursday night football. Cam Newton was victimized for a pick-six and the offense made four trips into the red zone yet could only manage three points.
The Dolphins (8-5) lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 33-27 as their big 4th quarter comeback fell short. But they sacked Patrick Mahomes three times, (Jerome Baker with 2.5) and picked him off three others. Tua Tagovailoa threw for a career-high 316 yards despite losing two of his biggest weapons during the game.
We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2020 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out. So, here is our look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.
First up is the Patriots offense:
Patriots RBs vs Dolphins Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Miami
The Patriots running game has been very good this season and is currently 5th in the NFL averaging 147.5 yards per game, while Miami’s rush defense, which was gashed by the Patriots in the first meeting is 22nd allowing 120.2 yards per game. On paper, it looks like a mismatch for the Patriots, with Damien Harris, Sony Michel, James White, and Cam Newton to have another big game.
But the feeling here is that Brian Flores, who knows the personnel of the Patriots quite well, will load the box to stop the run and dare Josh McDaniels to beat him over the top. Plus in that first meeting, no one had any tape on the Patriots offense with Newton, they should be much better prepared this time around. Especially if they get Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts back this week.
Patriots WRs vs Dolphins Secondary – Razor’s Edge Miami
The Patriots’ passing game is and has been pedestrian since last season. Especially since Julian Edelman got banged up and is now on IR. Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, and N’Keal Harry are complementary pieces, not the type of players keeping opposition defensive coaches up at night scheming up ways to stop them. Whatever happened to the wheel route to James White in the passing game?
Miami’s secondary is aggressive and opportunistic. They are solid across the board and should easily matchup with the Patriots’ limited options in the passing game. They are tied for 2nd in the NFL with a +10 turnover ratio. Xavien Howard leads the team with nine interceptions. They get good pressure on opposing quarterbacks Emmanuel Ogbah, Van Noy, and Baker lead the way.
Two things to keep in mind, forget the Dolphins ranking in run defense (22nd), and pass defense (18th), in 3rd down defense Miami, is 3rd, and in points allowed, the Dolphins are 2nd (18.8 points per game allowed.
Next up the Dolphins offense:
Dolphins RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England
The Dolphins aren’t a good running team rushing for just 95 yards per game and are 32nd averaging just 3.6 yards per rush. Last week, they were without both Myles Gaskin and Matt Brieda with COVID-19 issues. Ereck Flowers who has been improved this season was hurt in the KC game and didn’t return.
The Patriots’ run defense had been much improved in recent weeks. Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Deatrich Wise Jr., and Akeem Spence had settled in until they were bludgeoned by the Rams’ Cam Akers for a whopping 171 yards last Thursday.
In the rematch this week the Patriots should be able to handle Miami’s rushing attack.
Dolphins WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England
The passing game of Miami took a big hit with DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki both getting injured and having to leave the game against KC, and yet they still had a nice comeback going against KC. Jakeem Grant is nursing a hurt hamstring also.
The Patriots’ secondary has been very good when the run defense holds up. With many of Tua Tagovailoa’s skill position players banged up, the Patriots should be able to hold up well. Look for the Patriots to try to bring pressure and try to create some turnovers of their own.
Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots’ STs have been excellent down the stretch. Nick Folk has made 21 FGs in a row and is 21-23 on the season Miami’s Jason Sanders has made 30-32 Jake Bailey has been outstanding all year and is first in the league with an outstanding net punting average of 46.1, which also speaks how well the coverage units have been. Matt Haack has put 22 punts inside the 20. Both teams have solid coverage. Jakeem Grant has done well in returning punts averaging 11.5-yards per punt return. But don’t look now but Gunner Olszewski is leading the NFL with 20.6 yards per punt return.
Next up, who wins and why…
The Patriots have not fared well historically in Miami with a 16-38 record. With a win, they can keep their minuscule (snowball chance in hell) playoff chances with a victory but can give the Dolphins a taste of their own medicine what Miami did to the Pats in Week 17 last year.
Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:
Run Effectively and Finish – The Patriots offense has to run the ball to be effective. That is a given, but their red zone woes have to be rectified somewhat if they want to win this game or their remaining two games. Finishing drives is a must, and a repeat of last Thursday night (four redzone trips-3 points) is a recipe for disaster.
Josh McDaniels has to allow his QB to throw the ball in the red zone, four straight runs inside the ten won’t get it done. Use Harry’s size and the TEs….for a change.
No Turnovers on Offense – The Patriots know how good Miami is at creating turnovers. On Sunday, the offense (yes that means Cam) needs to play mistake-free football. Miami’s defense feeds on 3rd downs and keeping opponents out of the end zone. On the flip side, the Patriots’ defense has to pressure Tua and force a turnover or two on their own. J.C. Jackson has been the team’s best ballhawk with seven interceptions. The team could use another one on Sunday
Special Teams Needs to Outplay Miami – The Patriots have gotten outstanding STs play all season, but especially in the past few weeks. Miami also has very good STs units but this week, the Patriots need to win the matchup of good units and force the issue with a big return, or a blocked kick.
This is a tough matchup considering where the game is being played. However, the temps at game time should be only about 79 degrees. This will probably be a low-scoring, defensive game but Miami holds serve at home. Dolphins 20-13
Posted Under: 2020 NFL Season
Tags: Bill Belichick Cam Newton Damien Harris Devante Parker James White Julian Edelman Kyle Van Noy Miami Dolphins Mike Gesicki New England Patriots NFL Sony Michel Stephon Gilmore Tua Tagovailoa