The Patriots improved to 6-0 with a 30-23 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. It is a quick turnaround as the Pats will be going up against AFC East rival the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins come in winners of two in a row under new head coach Dan Campbell. Campbell replaced Joe Philbin after the Dolphins began the season uninspired. After two victories over the sisters of the poor in the AFC South in the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, now they will get their first test against a real team in the Patriots.
On paper the Patriots have the edge in almost every category, as this team is playing at a truly high level. Tom Brady is playing as good as he has in his career and last week against the Jets threw the team on his shoulders, and feet and willed them to victory. Here is the tail of the tape.
When the Patriots Run.
The Patriots are not exactly a running team. In the first six games of the season New England is ranked 31st in the league only averaging 83.7 yards per game. On the flip side the Fins rank 30th against the run giving up 129.3 yards per game. Something has got to give. Against the fins aggressive front of Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Oliver Vernon and CJ Mosley, this could be a game where Dion Lewis explodes. Lewis who missed last weeks game against the Jets with an abdominal injury is a game time decision. If he Lewis plays, this is the type of game where his electric moves in the rushing game and passing game will be very important. Lewis could have over 100 combined yards if the Patriots get him the ball. If Lewis is unable to play LeGarrette Blount and James White will again get the ball the Pats will most likely go pass heavy in that scenario.
When the Dolphins run.
In back to back game under Campbell, the Dolphins have committed to the run. Lamar Miller has over 100 yards in each of the past two games. Miller gave the Patriots fits in week one of the 2014 season before coming up lame after a run. Last week the Patriots bottled up Chris Ivory to the tune of 17 carries for 47 yards. The Patriots may opt to have the game plan on defense be to stop Miller and have Ryan Tannehill beat them through the air. The Dolphins offensive line has been better as of late, but with rookie Malcom Brown playing much better against the run the last few weeks the Patriots should have the upper hand.
When the Patriots Pass.
Until a team actually stops or at the very least slows down Tom Brady, this is a win for the Pats. Brady is playing unreal. Against the Jets he threw the ball 55 times and lit up the second ranked Jets pass defense. The Patriots offensive line is hurt, and Marcus Cannon has already been ruled out of tomorrows game. Sebastian Vollmer and Cameron Fleming with be tasked with slowing down Wake and Oliver. This is not an easy task, the Patriots will get the ball out quick. With Julian Edleman, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola playing at such a high level, the passing game has been unstoppable. Amendola has 15 catches in the last two games and there is no one on the Dolphins defense that can match up with the trio. Add to these great players Brandon LaFell and the Patriots have the weapons to attack all over the field. LaFell had his problems last week with drops, that is an abnormality. LaFell should have a bounce back game, as my partner on the Patriots Beat Podcast Bobby Krivitsky is predicting. Brady will be able to fire the ball all over the field to the tune of another 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. With LaFell back the Patriots can now throw the ball to Tom Brady’s favorite receiver, the open one.
When the Dolphins Pass the Ball.
Ryan Tannehill may not be the best QB, but he is being paid like one. On the season he has 13 touchdowns, and set an NFL record with 25 straight pass completions over a two game stretch. His main targets are Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews. Landry is the move the chains receiver and can turn a short pass into a long game very quickly. Matthews is the deep threat. The Patriots will as always play a mix of man and zone coverage. When the Patriots are in man coverage, it will be Malcolm Butler lined up against Landry. While Butler had a down game last week against Eric Decker, he should have an easier time against Landry. Putting Butler on Landry will allow the Patriots to protect the deep ball with Logan Ryan playing underneath coverage with help over the top with a safety such as McCourty or Duron Harmon. An area the Patriots will have to focus on is Jordan Cameron working the seem and underneath routes. Patrick Chung has done fine work on tight ends, however with the Dolphins possibly spreading the field and going three wide, this could be a Harmon game. Tannehill has been sacked 16 times in six games this season. The Patriots should attack this offensive line with A gap preasurre with Donta Hightower and Jamie Collins.
Who Wins and Why.
The quick turn around favors the Patriots because they do not need to travel. Miami has been playing better as of late, but they haven’t faced a team as good as the Patriots. The Patriots should be able to move the ball at will, Final score Patriots 45 Dolphins 23.
If you would like to listen to my audio preview of the game you can listen by clicking here.