Written by Matthew Cannata. Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
When the Dolphins are on offense:
Due to their rash of injuries on defense, the Patriots have moved to a zone coverage over the past several weeks. This will help the Dolphins because they love the short and intermediate passing game. This will allow the receivers and tight ends to find the soft spots in the zones and Tannehill should be able to pick them apart.
Last week, the Patriots struggled to contain Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Guess what? Mike Wallace is just as fast as Gordon, if not faster. Charles Clay is better than Jordan Cameron. The Dolphins need to do a good job of getting Wallace in open space and let him run between the zones and break one open. Clay should have a field day today. Add in Hartline to the mix and the Dolphins have a dangerous passing attack.
However, the Dolphins must establish the run. Can Daniel Thomas repeat last week’s performance? Can the offensive line move Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and Brandon Spikes to the second level and open up lanes?
If they could, it would make this game so much easier for the Dolphins. If they don’t, I still expect them to have great success against the Patriots defense.
When the Dolphins are on defense:
There really shouldn’t be many excuses for the Dolphins defense today. Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson, and Kenbrell Thompkins are all out for the Patriots today. That leaves the Patriots with Julian Edelman, Danny Amedonola, and Shane Vereen.
Now, this isn’t to say that those three are slouches because they aren’t. Shane Vereen is probably the most dangerous of the three and is Brady’s new favorite target. After Gronkowski went down last week, Vereen caught 12 passes for 153 yards. He’s also caught 40 passes in the five games he has played this year.
Brady will complete his passes, but his options are going to be extremely limited. I don’t expect Grimes to move around the field because none of these guys are worthy of being exclusively covered. With Grimes out there, you can eliminate one target on just about every play. That will leave Brady with two legitimate targets on every play.
It would be wise for the Dolphins to consider having Dion Jordan cover Shane Vereen out of the backfield. Will they do it? I think if they d, it eliminates yet another target for Brady on every play.
If the Dolphins can’t shut down two targets on every play, then they won’t deserve to win. With that said, I expect the Patriots to run the ball a lot because that’s their only chance of winning this game. If the Dolphins can step up their run defense and shut them down, it will make the Patriots one dimensional and should be able to feast on them.
When the Dolphins are on Special Teams:
There is a 30% chance of rain, so the weather should be pretty good for Caleb Sturgis. HE needs to make all of his field goals today but hopefully, we won’t see him much, which would be good because that means the Dolphins are scoring touchdowns!
The Patriots have a dangerous punt return man in Julian Edelman. However, he’s not Antonio Brown. The Dolphins did a great job containing him last week on returns so as long as they do the same today, they should be OK. Fields will need to do a good job in flipping field position throughout the game.
If you asked me last week before Gronkowski got injured, I would say the Dolphins wouldn’t beat the Patriots. Taking Gronkowski out though changes everything completely. Add in their other injuries and this is a perfect storm for the Dolphins to win this game. I’m predicting the Dolphins to win 24 – 14.