The Patriots head down to Miami on Sunday to play the Dolphins and try to find their second win of the season. New England’s struggles in Miami are no secret, but last year’s loss in Hard Rock Stadium was a particularly tough pill to swallow.
It was the game that coined the phrase “the Miami miracle” and despite New England playing well in that game, the Dolphins beat the Patriots on the last play of the game with a hook-and-ladder type play that Kenyan Drake was able to take advantage of. The Patriots have struggled in Miami for many years though. Tom Brady has a career record of 7-11 when he plays the Dolphins in that building. For whatever reason, traveling down to Miami has always been an issue for the Patriots and sometimes means the difference between first and second seed in the AFC playoffs.
This year, the odds are stacked in the Patriots’ favor. Despite what history might tell you, the Patriots are rightfully heavy favorites to win the game. They are currently favored by 18.5 points. The Dolphins were utterly embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, losing by a score of 59-10 at home.
On the other hand, the Patriots dealt out a beat down of their own against the Steelers last weekend in a game that ended 33-3. The Patriots asserted their dominance in all aspects of that game, and the Steelers are much more talented than the Dolphins are. Since that win against the Steelers, the Patriots have also added arguably the best wide receiver in football in Antonio Brown.
Brown is dealing with outside noise at the moment, but he has been practicing with the team since Wednesday and there has been nothing but positive things said about him from his teammates. It is unlikely that Brown will play a major role in the Patriots’ offensive game plan, but he may get a few targets if he gets lost in the secondary. Another thing Brown brings to the table is balance. It doesn’t matter how many days he’s been with the team, if Antonio Brown is on the field, you better cover him. He will probably draw Miami’s best corner, which can allow for guys like Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman to take advantage of favorable matchups. There were rumors that James White may not play because his wife is expected to give birth over the weekend, but White traveled to Miami.
Miami will be missing Rashad Jones at safety, and Albert Wilson at receiver for this game. Both guys are big parts of the team and an already weak roster cannot afford to not have guys of their caliber unable to play.
New England should honestly have no issue getting a win in this game. This Patriots team is stacked and this Dolphins team is very bad. I would not be surprised if New England took the same approach as Baltimore did last week and try to run up the score. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are two super competitive guys, and I guarantee it bugs them how much they struggle in Miami. Especially with how the lost last year, Brady might want to stick it to them and to get revenge. My only worry for New England is the offensive line. Marcus Cannon, who suffered a shoulder injury in the game against Pittsburgh, will be absent for this game. Korey Cunningham will likely replace him in the lineup, despite the fact he has only been a part of the team for a few weeks.
I expect Josh McDaniels to limit the playbook to avoid getting Brady hit, especially if they’re winning by a lot. There is also a chance Jarrett Stidham gets his first real NFL action. It has been well-documented that Brady does not like to come out of games, but this game could be over very quickly.
Bet on Brady to throw three touchdowns with zero interceptions. Miami’s secondary is not very good, and Rashad Jones will not be available in this game. They got torched by Lamar Jackson and a rookie last week, Brady should have a field day against them. My only suggestion to Belichick would be, if the Dolphins have the ball with no time left on the clock and it’s a one-possession game, maybe put safety at the safety position to avoid a repeat of last year’s nightmare. My score prediction is Patriots: 41, Dolphins: 7.