The Miami Dolphins have had success in years past at knocking off the New England Patriots. Of course you would have to go all the way back to 2009. Yes, the Patriots have won seven in a row against the Dolphins. Yes, that means that both Ryan Tannehill and Joe Philbin are 0-3 against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. This weekend they will meet for the fourth time under this regime and the implications of the game are far more than simple pride.
For the Dolphins it’s a difference between a chance at making the playoffs or likely sitting at home. For New England it’s a matter of winning the division and keeping a lead in the race for the number 2 seed.
The Dolphins are a young football team but they are also a team that has underachieved. They blew a 17-3 lead earlier this year in Foxboro and this weekends game will not be a cake walk despite the missing Brady target combinations of Rob Gronkowski and possibly Aaron Dobson. Miami has played well all season, well enough to win all but one game handily but this is a different game all together. For the first time this season the Dolphins are facing pressure to win.
Miami could really help their chances on Sunday by beating the Patriots. Regardless of whether Baltimore wins or loses Monday night, the two teams will square off a week later and having the Patriots fighting to secure the division against Baltimore could be the Ravens loss Miami is looking for. They can’t however look ahead. Even to the end of the game. The Dolphins must come out strong and finish stronger. It’s not an easy task but one this team should be capable of doing if for no other reason they already proved they can.
Defensively the Dolphins have to find a way to stop Tom Brady. Brady could be without both Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins but Brady is still Brady and only requires a small window of opportunity to get a ball to a wide-receiver. The Patriots are masters of improvisation and will look to utilize their runners in the passing game to get better matches. The Dolphins must be ready to experience those types of plays regularly.
Offensively it’s on the shoulders of Ryan Tannehill who fumbled New England a victory the first time around. It’s imperative for Tannehill to hold on to the ball and for the entire team not to make stupid mistakes or turn the ball over. New England thrives of the exploitation of errors.
A victory against the Patriots will go a long way to showing fans that this team can win big games. Important games. That they have matured and can play with anyone when the pressure is on. The pressure is on this weekend. It’s a late fourth quarter drive to win the game, kind of game. There is no room for error on Sunday and only a well played and well coached game will keep Miami paced with the Ravens. A victory would send the message to the fans that they can play with the better teams in the league.
When it finally comes down to it this game will tell us how much the Dolphins want to make the playoffs because New England is a beatable team, they were the first time, but Miami wasn’t ready to win that game. Let’s hope they are now.