Tag Archives: Ndamukong Suh

Veldheer Could be the Patriots’ First of a Secondary Slate of FA Signings

Steve Balestrieri
May 8, 2019 at 6:30 am ET

At the stroke of midnight, all remaining free agents will no longer count against the compensatory pick formula for the 2020 season. So one can expect a minor flurry of free agent signings to occur.

The Patriots are reportedly going to sign OT Jared Veldheer according to the NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. The one-year deal is said to be worth up to $6.5 million dollars and will add the needed depth the Patriots lack at the tackle position.

The 6-foot-8, 321-pound Veldheer who turns 32 in June has played in 118 career games with 113 starts. His nine-year career has been spent with the Oakland Raiders (2010-13), Arizona Cardinals (2014-17) and Denver Broncos (2018). He brings along a ton of versatility as well; Veldheer can play either tackle position, center or guard.

After losing LT Trent Brown and swing tackle LaAdrian Waddle in free agency, the team is expected to get back last year’s top draft pick Isaiah Wynn who missed the season due to injury as well as this year’s draft pick Yodny Cajuste. Marcus Cannon remains at right tackle. With the tackle position now seemingly in good shape entering OTAs, where else would the Patriots like to shore up their depth in free agency?

Defensive Tackle:

There are a couple of names still out there that could be intriguing to the team, depending on the amount of money that they’re looking for.

Allen Bailey – Bailey is an eight-year veteran with the Chiefs and was a defensive end in their 3-4 defense. With the Patriots he could bring that inside/outside versatility that Bill Belichick likes where he can play on the edge or kick inside as an interior pass rusher.

Bailey, 30, is listed at 6’3, 288 but was up to as much as 300 pounds at times last season according to media reports. With the Chiefs last year, he posted a career high 6.0 sacks along with 38 tackles and 2 forced fumbles.

Corey Liuget – Liuget spent the first eight years of his career with the Chargers and has been a very solid player. He missed the first four games of the 2018 season with a PED suspension. And only played in six games during the season after tearing a quariceps during a game against Denver in November. He was limited to just 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

In case anyone was keeping score at home former Patriots Ricky Jean-Francois, Danny Shelton and Dominque Easley are still available as well. But the biggest name out there is DT Ndamukong Suh. I just don’t think the Patriots are interested in Suh, despite his talent. He doesn’t seem like a Belichick-type player.He’s never played for less than $10 million APY according to SI, so he won’t come cheap. But never say never.

Tight End:

The Patriots have Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt Lacosse, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo, Jakob Johnson and the recently signed UDFA Andrew Beck on the roster. Potential trade candidates are Kyle Rudolph from the Vikings and the Bucs Cameron Brate if they cut their ties with him.

Ben Watson – The aging but still viable 38-year old retired in January but after the birth of his twins recently has said that he’d like to return to the NFL for one last season. Watson began his career with the Patriots as a first round draft pick in the 2004 season. ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes Watson may end up his career back in Foxboro.

Other free agents include Lance Kendrick and Jermaine Gresham.

Wide Receiver:

The Patriots aren’t as needy depth wise after drafting N’Keal Harry in the 1st round and signing three UDFAs but adding another veteran wide receiver may not be the worst decision they ever make.

Michael Crabtree – Crabtree is being linked to the Packers by CBS Sports so we’ll have to see how this development plays out. However, Crabtree had decent production with a Ravens team that wasn’t great at throwing the football in 2018.

Crabtree caught 54 passes for 607 yards 3 TDs with Baltimore and has been very durable, missing just two games total in the past five years.

Other notable players include Pierre Garcon, Seth Roberts, Jermaine Kearse, and Rishard Matthews.

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Patriots – Dolphins MNF Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge

Steve Balestrieri
December 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm ET

The Patriots go back out on the road for their fourth game in the last five as they take on the Miami Dolphins in South Florida on Monday Night Football. This is a hat and t-shirt game for the Patriots. With a win or a tie, the Patriots clinch the AFC East once again for the ninth straight time and the 17th since Robert Kraft took over the team in 1994.

This week’s game will be broadcast by ESPN on Monday, December 11 at 8:30 p.m. and can be seen on WCVB, Channel 5 in Boston. Sean McDonough will handle play-by-play duties with Jon Gruden as the color analyst. Lisa Salters 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 (10-2) are coming off a 23-3 blowout win over the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. The running game ran for nearly 200 yards while the defense for the eighth game in a row allowed 17 points or less.The Patriots secondary held Buffalo to just 82 yards passing

The Dolphins (5-7) are coming off of a 35-9 blowout win over Denver. The team snapped a five-game losing streak and are looking to get some consistency.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2017 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.

Series History:

The Patriots and Dolphins are meeting for the 105th time overall with Miami holding a 53-51 lead all-time in the teams’ rivalry. However, the Patriots have won 12 of the last 15 meetings including the lone from two weeks ago where the Patriots rolled 35-17 behind 196 yards on the ground.

Here is a 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 New England

The Patriots running game has been steadily improving behind the tandem of Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis. Two weeks ago against Miami, Lewis ran for 112 yards on 15 carries. They controlled the clock, the tempo and the line of scrimmage./

Miami has issues with the run with DE Andre Branch and DT Jordan Phillips having problems in the running game. If the Patriots see these two on the same side, look for them to run right at them. While they may not roll up 200 yards on the ground again, they should still find plenty of room to be more than a complimentary piece.

Patriots WRs vs Dolphins Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game is averaging 292 yards per game, tops in the NFL. Tom Brady however, won’t have his top receiver, Rob Gronkowski in the game as he’ll be serving a one-game suspension. But…the team may get back Chris Hogan this week. He’s been at practice all week and if he’s able to go would signal a huge boost in the Patriots passing game outside the numbers.

Miami got after Brady with very good pressure from everyone across the defensive line in the first matchup. They’ll need an effort like that again because their best corner  Cordrea Tankersley could miss this week with ankle and knee woes. Without Gronkowski look for Brady to spread them out and try to use their quickness all over the field. They’ll try to get Brandin Cooks the ball in space and Hogan (if he plays) may get the chance to go deep on a few plays down the field. The backs will again be a major factor in both the running and passing games.

Next up the Dolphins offense:

Dolphins RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Dolphins running game hasn’t been the same since they traded the freelancing Jay Ajayi to the Eagles. The carries have been shared between Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, but Williams is dealing with a shoulder issue and may not go.

The Patriots run defense has not been good and was gashed pretty well by the Bills last week although the return of Malcom Brown should help things. But will the Dolphins have the depth to force enough leverage there? The feeling here is no especially if they find themselves falling behind again.

Dolphins WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

Miami will have Jay Cutler back under center this week. He’s a different player than Matt Moore, so we’ll probably see some more shots down the field. Jarvis Landry had eight catches for 70 yards in the first one and he, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker with tight end Julius Thomas should be much more productive than they are.

The Patriots pass defense is playing tremendous right now. It is a possibility that we’ll see some of Eric Rowe on Landry this week as he has a bit of size, although Jonathan Jones matched up well with Landry in the first meeting.

Look for the Patriots to be much more aggressive against this beatable Miami offensive line again. They teed off in the second half and got six sacks. Cutler isn’t mobile and the Patriots may call down the dogs this week.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski is having an outstanding season. His kickoffs are pinning teams deep and the outstanding coverage units are smothering the opposition. The Dolphins have solid kickers but aren’t generating anything in the return game. The Patriots Special Teams has been scoring points, blocking kicks, and last time ran a fake punt for a big first down that set up a touchdown.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This one is a divisional matchup on Monday Night so, as we’ve seen all season, anything can happen. But unless the Patriots implode, I can’t see the Dolphins beating New England this week. However, the Patriots have traditionally not played well in the heat of Miami. It does help that this one is at night so that shouldn’t be a big factor.

Having No Rob Gronkowski is a big blow for the Patriots offense but if Chris Hogan is able to come back and play this week it will be a nice boost to the outside passing game. Look for the running game to continue their solid play and Brady to spread the Dolphins defense out. Miami may run the ball effectively, but I don’t see Cutler having a good night against the secondary. New England heads to Pittsburgh 11-2 setting up a big game next week.  Patriots 30-13

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Patriots – Dolphins Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge

Steve Balestrieri
November 24, 2017 at 9:16 am ET

The Patriots return home for one game this week against the Miami Dolphins before heading back out on the road for a three-game road trip. In a weird quirk in the NFL’s scheduling, the Patriots and Dolphins meet twice in three weeks.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, November 19 at 1:05 p.m. and can be seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts 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 (8-2) are coming off a very successful two-game road trip with blowout wins coming against the Denver Broncos 41-16 and last week in Mexico City against the Oakland Raiders 33-8. Tom Brady continues his torrid pace in 2017 and the defense for the sixth game in a row allowed 17 points or less.

The Dolphins (4-6) have lost four in a row and in danger of falling out of the playoff race after entering the season with so much hope of earning back to back playoff berths.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2017 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.

Series History:

The Patriots and Dolphins history has been a streaky one with Miami holding an overall 53-50 lead all-time in the teams’ rivalry. However, the Patriots have won 11 of the past 14 meetings including the last eight at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots swept the series last season, 31-24 in Week 2 with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett at the helm and in the regular season finale 35-14 in Miami.

Here is a 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 New England

The Patriots running game has been improving with Dion Lewis taking over the bulk of the running game with Rex Burkhead getting the complimentary carries and James White just a few here and there. Mike Gillislee has been a healthy scratch for two weeks in a row. The Patriots haven’t run the ball a ton lately because they’ve been so adept at passing it but this week could see more emphasis on the running game.

Miami for the first month of the season looked vastly improved in the running game. But during their losing streak, they’ve been getting gashed by the run. Having released Rey Maualuga at middle linebacker won’t help matters as he was impressive as a run stuffer.

Look for the Patriots to mix things up quite a bit this week. Miami’s defensive ends will be looking to influence the passing game by teeing off, so they’ll attempt to run right at them on Sunday.

Patriots WRs vs Dolphins Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game is averaging over 300 yards per game, tops in the NFL. Tom Brady has been brilliant about spreading the ball around to a plethora of different receivers and they’re continually able to find mismatches. With their wide receivers banged up, they haven’t missed a beat.

Miami’s pass defense is allowing just 229 yards per game but opposing QBs are completing nearly 70 percent of their throws and have an average passer rating of 104.3 which is second worst in the league.

Look for Brady to work the tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett as well as the running backs, James White and Rex Burkhead heavily into the mix this week. The Dolphins pass rush has had issues getting to the QB, and if Brady has time, he’ll carve them up in death by 1000 cuts.

Next up the Dolphins offense:

Dolphins RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Miami

The Dolphins traded their top running back Jay Ajayi to the Eagles earlier in the season and now are going with Damien Williams and the intriguing Kenyan Drake who’s averaging about 5.5 yards per carry. The Dolphins have been struggling to run averaging just 80.4 yards per game and score, with just one rushing touchdown on the season.

The Patriots run defense has struggled in 2017, with Malcom Brown injured and Vincent Valentine and Dont’a Hightower on IR, the middle of the line has been suspect. Coupled with less than stellar play that we’ve come to expect from Alan Branch, it is an issue. The Raiders ran the ball effectively last week but the Patriots jumped out to such a big lead they were forced to abandon it.

Look for Miami to feature Drake more this week. Williams has been the de facto starter since Ajayi left but that may change as they are looking for answers to get their offense untracked. And we feel here, Drake will have a solid day on the ground.

Dolphins WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

Miami’s passing game has been mired in mediocrity since Ryan Tannehill went down in camp. The team signed Jay Cutler and he hasn’t gotten it done. With the targets he has in the passing game with Jarvis Landry (3rd in the NFL with 67 catches), Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Julius Thomas at tight end and the running backs, the Dolphins passing game should be its strength.

The Patriots pass defense is playing much better since a nightmarish start to the season. Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler did a fine job on the duo of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper last week. Landry is their go-to guy to move the sticks but Stills is the Miami big play guy and if Eric Rowe isn’t ready to go, that will fall to Jonathan Jones, who has played well this year.

Cutler was in concussion protocol this week but did return to practice, albeit in a limited fashion on Thursday, which means he probably passed. If so, he’ll probably get the start but one has to wonder if the Dolphins would be better suited to go with the steady if unspectacular Matt Moore in there.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski was the AFC STs Player of the Week after booting a pair of 50+ yard field goals (62 and 51) in a 4-4 day against the Raiders. His short kickoffs coupled with outstanding coverage has put the Patriots in great advantageous position. Ryan Allen’s punting has been steadily improving and it seems like every week the Patriots are getting big plays from their STs units.

The Dolphins Special teams have been playing very well. Their own coverage units are very solid and they have a pair of very good kickers but their return game hasn’t had a big impact. With the way New England’s STs units are playing right now, they get the nod.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This one will be an intriguing one to keep an eye on. The Patriots will want to get off to a fast start and see if Miami, who has dropped four in a row answer the bell or pack it in. Two of their four losses in the last month have been blowouts. The Patriots secondary has been much, much better the past month and I look for them to continue that trend this week. It is a much different atmosphere for the Dolphins when they play at Foxboro. They haven’t won in New England since the Wildcat game in 2008 when Matt Cassel was the QB for New England.

Look for Tom Brady to spread the Dolphins out and find the mismatches underneath. Getting T.J. McDonald back from an eight game suspension should help in defending the tight ends, but he and Reshad Jones can only do so much. The running backs in the passing game may open up some down the field options for Brandin Cooks.

The Patriots hold serve at home with another big win and head to Buffalo at 9-2.  Patriots 34-16

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Patriots – Miami, Despite Dropping Four in a Row, Dolphins Still in the Hunt

Steve Balestrieri
November 22, 2017 at 11:15 am ET

After a very good 2016 where they made the playoffs, the confidence was high in Miami this season. The team had surrounded Ryan Tannehill with a very nice array of weapons and the defense was looking to make a big turnaround.

But things haven’t worked out that well. Tannehill was hurt in training camp and was lost for the season. The team signed Jay Cutler and he hasn’t worked out. The Dolphins offense has sputtered along and is currently 30th in the NFL in yards and 31st in scoring averaging just 15.7 points per game. Jay Ajayi was traded in midseason and the running game is mired in neutral.

The defense, while the middle of the road in terms of yardage is 25th in points allowed and hasn’t made the strides that they envisioned.

Here are some other of our first impressions of the Dolphins:

Down But Not Out: Miami’s dropped four in a row and is now sitting at 4-6, but they are still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot. They’re only a game behind the Bills and Ravens who are 5-5 for the final playoff berth.

So while head coach Adam Gase must get things turned around quickly for the Dolphins, a loss this weekend doesn’t spell the end of their season although no one wants to lose five straight.

Parker Has Been Disappointing this Season: Jarvis Landry has been the go-to guy in the Dolphins passing offense in 2017. He’s been the guy to move the chains and leads the team with 67 catches and 6 touchdowns. Kenny Stills has been their home run threat averaging 14.7 yards per reception with 40 catches with 5 touchdowns. But the third part of their three-headed monster at wide receiver, DeVante Parker has been a disappointment this season. He has just 34 catches for 404 yards and one touchdown.

This was supposed to be both Parker and Tannehill’s coming out party this season and despite a stellar training camp where he turned heads and was expected to light it up in 2017. Part of the reason is a nagging ankle injury that caused him to miss some time.

He’s still not 100 percent and the feeling around Miami is beginning to develop that Parker is just one of those players that just won’t perform at a high level unless he’s feeling great.

While all eyes will be on Landry this week, the guy to watch is Stills who they’ll probably operate out of the slot against Jonathan Jones. Miami quarterbacks have a 117.4 passer rating when targeting Stills in 2017. For Parker, who was targeted nine times last week and caught just four passes for 26 yards, Dolphins QBs have just a 77.9 passer rating when targeting him.

Running on Empty: The Dolphins running game is averaging just 80.4 yards per game this season which is just 29th in the league. They jettisoned Jay Ajayi who is currently loving life in Philadelphia. That leaves them with Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake. Williams has been getting the most reps but that may be about to change. Williams ripped off a 69 yard run last week. But his other 10 runs netted just 9 yards.

Drake meanwhile is averaging a stellar 5.5 yards per carry and has the blazing speed that makes him dangerous.

Tight end Anthony Fasano who has played with Jamaal Charles and DeMarco Murray likes what Drake in limited reps has been able to do and thinks he’s just scratching the surface. In an interview with Palm Beach Post, he raved about the 2nd year running back.

Once they break through the secondary, they’re a threat to go the entire field,” Fasano said Friday. “At any moment. That breakaway speed they all have in common. DeMarco has great vision. And can really find holes. Jamaal has elusiveness and can bounce it. And Drake is the same way. So I could just say the breakaway speed and the vision are similar.”

Dolphins Pass Defense Will Be Tested This Week: On the surface, Miami’s pass defense looks to be very stout. They’re allowing just 229.3 yards per game and have given up just one pass play of 45 yards or more all season.

But opposing quarterbacks can be patient and work their way down the field as opposing QBs have completed 67.6 percent of their passes. Miami has only three interceptions on the season and has allowed 18 touchdown passes. Opponents’ passer rating is 104.3. This type of game plays into what the Patriots and Tom Brady do well.

One area to monitor will be the tight ends. Miami has struggled to cover tight ends and the Patriots can throw to three at any given time. Rob Gronkowski will be a matchup to watch this week. Whoever gets him and it may be two defenders it will open up single coverage on someone else.

The Dolphins pass rush hasn’t been as productive as they’ve hoped. They’ve logged just 17 sacks, the same number that the Patriots have. Cameron Wake leads the way with six and Ndamukong Suh has 3.5 and as always, they’ll have to be accounted for. Wake seemed to tire at the end of games lately so it will be imperative for the coaches to limit his reps and work in Charles Harris and William Hayes into the lineup.

Check back later this week with us and we’ll have a detailed breakdown of all the key matchups in this game.

Happy Thanksgiving all….

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Tuesdays at 12 noon.

Best of Social Media: Week 17 Patriots vs Dolphins

Robert Alvarez
January 5, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Entering the final week of the 2017 regular season, the New England Patriots needed a win to secure the number one seed in the AFC Playoffs but needed to get past their prior struggles in Miami against the Dolphins, who had won three straight at home against them going back to 2013.

In the first half, it was the Patriots who came out dominating on both sides of the ball as tight end Martellus Bennett scored the first touchdown of the game.

https://twitter.com/giseleofficial/status/815621971954307072

After the Bennett score, wide receiver Michael Floyd found the end zone for the first time as a Patriot and the Patriots found themselves up 14-0 after one quarter of play.

I believe he's in sir look!!! #newseason

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

In the second quarter, kicker Stephen Gostkowski tacked on two field goals to bring the Patriots lead to 20-0 as the time of possession continued to be owned by New England much to the dismay of Ndamukong Suh.

With 28 seconds to go until halftime, Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore found Jarvis Landry for a touchdown ending an impressive run by the Patriots defense. 20-7 Patriots at the half.

Getting the ball back to start the third quarter, the Dolphins clawed their way back into the game as Matt Moore found Kenny Stills for another six as it was all of a sudden a six point game.

https://twitter.com/nflnetwork/status/815647279839211520

It didn’t take long for the Patriots to answer, as wide receiver Julian Edelman recorded the longest touchdown pass of his career courtesy of one of the biggest blocks of the season by Michael Floyd.

https://twitter.com/Edelman11/status/816313169278861312

27-14 Patriots with 6:41 to go in the third quarter.

The Dolphins tried to respond again, but the Patriots defense had other plans inside the red zone.

Now inside the Dolphins 20 following the return, LeGarrette Blount made them pay with his 18th rushing touchdown of the season.

https://twitter.com/chatham58/status/815658414965686272

A two point conversation to Julian Edelman saw the Patriots put the game out of reach at 35-14 with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

At the games conclusion, Brady added another record to his resume.

Posted by Tom Brady on Sunday, January 1, 2017

Great win boys!! #letsgooo #postseason #pats

A post shared by Chris Hogan (@chrishogan_15) on

https://twitter.com/Mac_BZ/status/815701729241079808

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOz2-gnjHvK/?taken-by=iii_flowers

Blount on Dolphins Suh: “He’s Always Been a Dirty Player”

Ian Logue
January 1, 2017 at 6:42 pm ET

LeGarrette Blount is no stranger to opposing players taking cheap shots at him, and on Sunday down in Miami he got locked up in a heated exchange with Ndamukong Suh over a similar incident.

The play occurred late in the game after the Patriots had extended their lead to 35-14.  With Jimmy Garoppolo now in the game, the Patriots ran Blount with just under four-minutes left to try and start running out the clock.  As Blount was coming to his feet following a first-down carry, Suh shoved him, which caused Blount to go after him.

It escalated from there, with Suh taking a swing at Bount after the running back ripped his helmet off.  An official stepped in-between the two players and pushed Suh out of the fray, but threw a flag on Blount for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Blount got he last laugh, as the Patriots locked up the number one seed in the AFC and now have home field throughout the postseason. At the end of the day, Blount said getting the win was the most important thing.

“There’s not many guys in this league that like that guy.  I don’t even know if there’s a lot of guys on that team that like him,” Blount told WBZ via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.  “He’s a dirty player.  He’s always been a dirty player.  He’s always going to be a dirty player.  There’s no room in the game for that.”

“At some point in time, guys have to defend themselves when he’s doing the things that he does.  Hopefully, there’s something to be said about it.  All in all, he got his ass beat.  They lost.  He ran into the locker room after the game.  We’re good.”

It’s no secret that Suh is a dirty player, especially given the shot he took at Brady in last year’s finale, and after what we saw Sunday, it looks like Blount doesn’t think very highly of him either.

Patriots Players to Watch Against the Dolphins

Steve Balestrieri
December 31, 2016 at 8:30 am ET

The Patriots head back out on the road for the 2016 regular season finale when they take on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Patriots are 13-2 and could clinch the top seed in the AFC tomorrow with a win or from a loss or tie by the Raiders in Denver.  But remembering last season’s finale in Miami, the Patriots want to close the deal and finish strong with a win. The Patriots can finish the season 8-0 on the road with a victory Sunday which would mark just the seventh time it’s been done in history.

The Dolphins are 10-5 and have already clinched a playoff spot. They’re currently locked into the #6 slot but with a win and some help, could slide up to the 5th position. While not sounding like a large variation, it would be the difference between traveling to Pittsburgh on Wild Card weekend, or to Houston.

Here are our five players from a Patriots perspective to watch on Sunday:

QB Tom Brady: Brady has been hobbled by a thigh injury that he suffered weeks ago against the Seattle Seahawks. He hasn’t missed any game action and appears completely healthy from that standpoint.  But he’s missed practice time again this week, although it could just be the coaching staff wants to limit his workload heading into the postseason.

Although the Patriots have won 10 of their last 13 against the Dolphins, the last three times they’ve been in Miami they’ve come up short. And Brady hasn’t had some of his best games down there. That’s something he’d like to change this week. Facing a defense where many of their players are hurting, this could be a prime opportunity.

Unlike last season where the Patriots had a preponderance of the game plan centered around running the ball with an aging Steven Jackson, this season should show the Patriots using a much more balanced attack. Look for Brady to be on top of his game this week, facing a playoff team that doubles as a divisional rival.

DT Alan Branch: The Patriots have been very good against the run in 2016 and much of the credit has to go to the big men in the middle, Branch, and Malcom Brown. They’ve been excellent at clogging up the running lanes and stopping the forward progress at the point of attack. The Pats have allowed just 89.5 yards per game on the ground.

But this week they face a resurgent Dolphins team with Jay Ajayi who rushed for 206 yards last week against the Bills. No doubt Bill Belichick will have the team watch the tape of overtime where Ajayi burst through the defense and rolled for a 57-yard run that eventually proved to be the difference in overtime. Branch, 32, is in the final year of his contract and would like to finish off the 2016 regular season and head to the playoffs on a high note.

Belichick praised the veteran this week, as the Patriots most consistent defensive tackle. Branch will be looked to on Sunday, to slow the running of Ajayi and force the ball and ultimately the game into Matt Moore’s hands.

RB LeGarrette Blount: Blount is in the middle of a mini-slump while still having the best year of his career. Although the big man has gained over 1100 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, the past two weeks has found Blount averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry against Denver and the Jets.

A game against the porous Dolphins run defense could be just what the doctor ordered for the big man. Miami is allowing 141.8 yards per game and a whopping 4.9 yards per carry, worst in the league. Blount and Dion Lewis should see plenty of carries in this week’s matchup against the league’s 30th ranked rush defense.

Miami is banged up on defense and will be missing their top two safeties, their best corner, and a starting linebacker. The Patriots have plenty of weapons on offense and should keep the Dolphins focus on their passing game while using the running game to keep the offense balanced. Look for Blount to log another 20-carry day in the Miami heat on Sunday.

CB Logan Ryan: The Patriots veteran corner has been playing very solidly the past several weeks and is usually lined up on the opponent’s speediest wide receiver. The Patriots have settled on a trio of Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, and Ryan. And since then, the play of the secondary has improved.

The Patriots remember the second half of the Week 2 contest where Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins nearly pulled off a huge comeback. Tannehill completed 20 of 21 at one point and both DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry went over the 100-yard mark.

Look for Ryan to match up with the speedster Kenny Stills this week. He’s been the Dolphins big play receiver and seven of his eight touchdowns have gone for 20 yards or more this season, including three of more than 50 yards. Ryan will have his hands full with this matchup and this one should be a key one to watch tomorrow.

TE Martellus Bennett: The wide receivers of the Patriots will draw the attention of Miami’s corners this week. The three running backs can stress the defense in both the running game and the passing game, and then there is Bennett.

The Patriots big tight end is a terrific blocker as well as a difference maker in the passing game. In the first matchup with the Dolphins, he caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. And with Miami hurting on defense, he can be a guy that can create some mismatches for Tom Brady.

Although Bennett has been slowed lately with some injuries, he’s been able to answer the bell and has gutted his way thru the pain since Week 5 against the Browns. The Dolphins will have two backup safeties starting this week. I look for the Patriots to attack the seams of the defense, especially with Bennett who had success against them in Week 2. He will also be looked to in the running game to help spring the backs and get them to the second level.

Stay tuned to PatsFans.com as we’ll have up-to-the-minute breaking news as well as post-game analysis.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Dolphins II Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 30, 2016 at 8:30 am ET

The New England Patriots will play their final game of the 2016 NFL regular season on the road against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts handling the play-by-play and analysis duties. Evan Washburn will work 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 (13-2) defeated the New York Jets on Christmas Eve in Foxboro 41-3. Tom Brady threw for three first half touchdowns and LeGarrette Blount rushed for two touchdowns giving him a league-leading 17 on the season. The defense forced four more turnovers.

The Dolphins (10-5) beat the Buffalo Bills 34-31 in overtime. Jay Ajayi rushed for 206 yards and a touchdown, his third 200-yard game of the season. QB Matt Moore filling in for the injured Ryan Tannehill threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 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.

Series History:
The Patriots and Dolphins will be meeting for the 103rd time with Miami holding an all-time 53-49 edge. The Dolphins hold a big all-time edge in home games 36-15. The last three years have seen the series split along home lines with each team holding serve on their home field.

The Patriots jumped out to a big lead in Week 2 but then had to hold on for a 31-24 victory with Jimmy Garoppolo starting at QB before being injured and giving way to Jacoby Brissett.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2016 Opponents, A Second Look at the Dolphins

Steve Balestrieri
December 28, 2016 at 7:08 am ET

Miami Back in the Playoffs And On a Roll

The Patriots 2016 regular season finale brings them back to South Florida where they’ll take on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Dolphins have seemed to have found the right man in head coach Adam Gase. After a slow start, the team has bought into Gase’s system and they’re winners of nine of their last ten games.

The Dolphins started 1-4 including a Week 2 loss to the Patriots but have been on a roll since. With their win over the Bills on Sunday, coupled with the loss of the Broncos to the Chiefs on Sunday night, Miami is playoff bound for the first time since 2008.

They scantly resemble the team that came into Foxboro early in the season and will be looking to enter the playoffs on a high note. FWIW, Miami has beaten the Patriots on their last three trips to South Beach including last year’s regular season finale where the Patriots dusted off a game plan from 1933.

The Patriots need a win or an Oakland loss or tie to secure home-field advantage for the playoffs. They remember all too well having to travel to Denver for the AFC Championship Game and want the playoffs to run thru Foxboro. Miami is currently in the 6th playoff spot, but with a win and a KC, loss could move into the 5th position.

Here are our Five Updated Impressions of the Dolphins:

Gase Was the Best Move Made in Offseason:  We wrote this in mid-September and it has been proven by the way the season has played out. When Miami landed Gase this offseason, it was perhaps the best move the franchise has made in many years and arguably one of the best that any team had done this spring.

The acquisition of the Nick Saban disciple in Gase was a much needed and smart move by Miami who has had a coaching carousel for far too long. Gase worked well with Peyton Manning and he turned things around for Ryan Tannehill who hasn’t had a stable coaching staff in his career.

Gase went to a simpler offense that plays to the strengths of his QB and his talented skill players. Instead of the deep play offense that didn’t work, but more of a methodical approach that the Patriots employ.

The youngest coach (38) in the NFL got a ringing endorsement from Manning, who called him, “the smartest man I know.”

Jay Ajayi Has Been the Biggest Surprise of 2016: When the Patriots faced the Dolphins in Week 2, Ajayi wasn’t a big part of the Miami offense. They brought in veteran Arian Foster to bolster the running game, but his injuries proved to be too much and he’s since retired. Since then, Ajayi has become an explosive weapon.

Ajayi has three games this season where’s he’s topped 200 yards rushing including back-to-back games in Weeks 6-7 against Pittsburgh (204) and Buffalo (214). He was slowed in recent weeks but exploded for another 200-yard effort against the Bills last week when he rushed for 206 yards. In overtime, he burst 57 yards to set the Dolphins up for an Andrew Franks game-winning field goal.

Ajayi suffered a shoulder injury late in the game against Buffalo but is expected to be ready to go on Sunday. This will be a big test for the Patriots run defense, who prior to Saturday’s game against the Jets have held their previous four opponents to under 64 yards rushing.

Landry, Parker, and Stills, A Big Three in the Passing Game: The Dolphins have the receivers to give the Patriots plenty of issues when the teams face off in Miami. Jarvis Landry is the most prolific receiver on the Dolphins with 85 catches for 1060 yards and three touchdowns. He’s the go-to guy in the passing game. But DeVante Parker has been effective as well. He’s caught 51 passes for 699 yards and four scores. Both Landry and Parker had over 100 yards receiving when the teams met in September.

But it has been Kenny Stills who has become the homerun hitter for the offense. Stills has 38 catches for 685 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. His 18.0 yards per reception is second in the NFL to only Chris Hogan’s 19.2. Stills has seven touchdown receptions of 20 yards or more, including three of over 50 yards. While Landry and Parker have moved the chains, Stills, in his second season in Miami has been the big play guy in the passing game.

This should be an intriguing matchup between the Patriots secondary and a Dolphins group of receivers who really came on in the second half of the game against them in Foxboro and narrowly missed an upset win.

Resilience, Depth the Keys to This Dolphins Team: As we mentioned above, the Dolphins made a very smart move in hiring Adam Gase. He kept the team marching forward despite a 1-4 start and a slew of injuries and kept this team winning where so many other Miami teams in the past would have folded up their tents.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since 1990, 128 teams have started 1-4. Only eight of those teams, just six percent have made the playoffs. The Dolphins join the Chiefs of 2015 as the two latest teams to accomplish that.

Miami has also lost arguably their best offensive and defensive players in safety Reshad Jones and center Mike Pouncey. They’ve had to deal with their starting QB Ryan Tannehill being out as well as the loss of linebackers Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins. This week, they’ll probably be without safety Isa Abdul- Quddus who is banged up.

Run Defense is a Huge Problem Spot: Miami’s defense takes a page from the Patriots playbook, while they’ve given up plenty of yardage, they’re not giving up a lot of points. However, the run defense has been a problem all year and continues to be an issue.

The Dolphins run defense is 30th in the league allowing a whopping 141.8 yards per game. They also allow a league worst 4.9 yards per carry. The defense has already allowed more yards than the awful 1-15 team of 2007. If the Patriots generate 335 yards of offense on Sunday, it will mark the most yards allowed by a Miami defense in their history.

But despite being #24 in yards allowed in 2016 (5726) and an average of 381.7 per game, the Dolphins are just 14 in points allowed.

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Dolphins Keys to the Game, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
September 16, 2016 at 6:37 am ET

The New England Patriots will play their home opener of the 2016 NFL season at Gillette Stadium against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The game will be televised by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ with Greg Gumble and Trent Green handling the play-by-play and analysis duties. Jamie Erdahl will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (1-0) defeated the Arizona Cardinals 23-21 on Sunday Night Football as Jimmy Garoppolo was impressive in his first NFL start throwing for 264 yards and a touchdown. LeGarrette Blount ran for 70 yards and a touchdown. Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with under a minute to go.

The Dolphins (0-1) lost to the Seattle Seahawks 12-6 when Russell Wilson connected with Doug Baldwin for a game-winning touchdown pass with less than a minute to go. Miami had chances to win with a field goal being blocked, a fourth and inches attempt failing from the Seattle 17-yard line and Kenny Stills dropping a sure-fire 71-yard score.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 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.

Series History:
The Patriots and Dolphins will be meeting for the 102nd time with Miami holding an all-time 53-48 edge. The Patriots hold the all-time edge in home games 33-18 and hold a sizable advantage at Gillette Stadium where they are 12-2. The last three years have seen the series split along home lines with each team holding serve on their home field.

The Patriots crushed Miami 36-7 in Gillette and Miami dominated in a 20-10 win in the final regular season game of 2015.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense: