Keys To A Patriots Win vs Dolphins

Thursday night’s clash between the Patriots and division rival Dolphins is somewhat of a perfect storm for Pats quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady is 8-0 in his career (as starter) on Thursday’s. The future hall of famer is also 12-1 in his career at home against the Dolphins.

Brady’s lone loss came in Week 17 of 2006, when the quarterback played just the first quarter with the Patriots spot in the playoffs already clinched.

Brady is a dominant force on Thursday’s. Throwing 20 touchdown passes to just 2 interceptions in his 8 career starts. For you fantasy buffs out there, Brady averages 21.68 fantasy PPG on Thursday’s.

Let’s take a look at what the Patriots will need to do to improve to 7-0:

Stop Lamar Miller: The Dolphins running back had a slow start to his 2015 campaign, but with Dan Campbell taking over as head coach the Dolphins have re-committed themselves to their talented running back. In his last two games, Miller has averaged 177.0 scrimmage YPG with 3 TDs. His 38 touches in that span are almost as many as his total amount of touches in the four games prior (47). Dan Campbell learned from his predecessor’s mistake of not giving the ball to his team’s best playmaker, and Miller has rewarded him with back-to-back 100 yard rushing games.

Limit Yards After Catch: How is this for a stat? Of Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s 282 pass yards vs the Texans in Week 7, only 35 of those yards came through the air. Dolphins receivers had 247 yards after the catch against the Texans, including a monster screen pass to Miller, and a great effort after the catch by top receiver Jarvis Landry. The Patriots will have to tackle better in the open field than Houston if they want to beat Miami.

Slow Down Miami’s Pass Rush: After the Dolphins signed heralded defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this offseason there was a lot of hype about this teams vaunted defensive line. A major part of the reason why former head coach Joe Philbin was let go was because in the first four weeks of the season his defense tallied just 1 sack. 1 sack, with a defensive line made up of Suh, fellow Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, and underrated edge rusher Oliver Vernon. In the last two weeks under Campbell, the Miami defense has recorded 10 sacks of the quarterback, the most in the league over that span. Cameron Wake in particular has rounded back into form, totalling all six of his sacks in the last two weeks.

Run the Ball: After just 9 rush attempts (4 by Brady) last week, rushing the ball seems like a foreign idea to the Patriots lately. That will have to change on Thursday. Miami gives up the third-most rush yards per game this season (129.3) and has given up 22 rushes of 10+ yards this season (T-8th most in NFL). The Dolphins have held up well against the pass so far this season, their opponents have a QB rating of just 86.6. The Patriots will have to run the ball significantly more this week. Running the football also helps slow down the pass rush.

Take Advantage of Coaching Experience: This point is a given almost every week. Bill Belichick gives them a stark advantage going into every game as the best head coach in the NFL, and maybe the best coach ever. This is rookie head coach Dan Campbell’s third game at the helm of the Dolphins, and now he has to play the defending Super Bowl champs on a short week. The Patriots should have a big advantage in terms of preparation with just three days to prepare for a Thursday night game.

Injury Forecast: The Dolphins come into the game healthy. They have just one player listed as questionable on this week’s injury report (Brice McCain). The Patriots on the other hand, have already ruled out DL Jabaal Sheard, OT Marcus Cannon, and LB Rufus Johnson. Furthermore,  RB Dion Lewis, OG Shaq Mason, RB Brandon Bolden, and WR Keshawn Martin are all questionable for tonight’s tilt. The injuries might not be coming to major stars on the Patriots roster, but are starting to pile up for the team as a whole.