The Miami Dolphins enter week fifteen against the New England as the better team currently. Yes, I am going out on a limb saying it. But it’s not that farfetched. New England’s top target is out for the year. They have no real weapon on the outside and their defense is slightly above average at 6.9 yards per play. Every team is beatable in the NFL, but this week Miami has the chance to take sole possession of the final wild card spot with a win versus New England.
The Dolphins are on a little bit of a hot streak, their receivers are getting yards after catch, and the offensive line has gotten it together and is playing its best football of the year after the early season disasters that took place.
The defense has settled down and is a top ten passing defense. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has been putting the defensive line in positions to succeed and I expect their main objective is to mix up blitz packages and get to Tom Brady.
The New England Patriots are vulnerable on defense. They are a bottom ten run defense entering week 15 giving up 4.5 yards per play. Lamar Miller looks like a go for this week (concussion) and, with a timeshare between him and Daniel Thomas, they are averaging 4.3 yards per carry on the ground. This is key for the Dolphins. As of late the Dolphins offensive line has been above average compared to where they were earlier in the year and it has shown on the ground. The Dolphins are a team that will not ground and pound a defense to death, which is why they are 29th in the league in attempts. They just need to play balanced football, keep drives alive.
The last time these two teams faced each other the Dolphins jumped ahead to a 17-3 lead and let the lead slip away only to lose 27-17. I am not saying this is irrelevant but the result is not something to base this week’s outcome on. Tom Brady was held in check for the entire game, completing 59% of his passes. It was Miami’s lack of protection on the offensive line that changed the outcome. Six sacks along with two interceptions by Ryan Tannehill was the reason for the Miami loss.
The Patriots are an opportunistic team. Their offense is not what it used to be and last week Rob Gronkowski tore his ACL against the Browns. The significance of this injury is huge, it slows down the Patriots passing game. Shane Vereen, the type of running back the Dolphins have trouble with, is the Patriots only real weapon. Julian Edelman has been on a hot streak as of late, but this is in large part due to the impact of Gronkowski. He completely changed the landscape of New England’s passing game and with him out, it bodes real well for the Dolphin defense.
This is why I think the Patriots will try to run the ball. There is no real outside threat for the Dolphins to worry about. The wide receivers are depleted with injury, rookie Josh Boyce started last week in place for Aaron Dobson. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are physically limited, but corner back Dmitri Patterson being placed on IR is a huge blow to the Dolphin pass defense despite being a top ten defense entering week 15. On top of Patterson being on IR, the Dolphins linebackers have been a huge disappointment this year. It is the Achilles heel of the defense and I expect the Patriots to double team the Dolphins defensive tackles and let their running back by committee wreak havoc on Dolphin linebackers.
In order for Miami to get a win this week, they can’t turn the ball over. Run the ball effectively and expect New England to pound them with the run. For my pointless prediction that somehow will reflect my football knowledge for which I will not be accountable for.