Can the Miami Dolphins beat New England?


It’s been a fun couple of weeks but for the Miami Dolphins Thursday nights game is the one that will answer a lot of questions. The Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans are no pushovers. No one in the NFL is. They are however, not the New England Patriots.

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After losing seven straight against the Patriots from 2010 to 2013, the Miami Dolphins finally managed to put together back-to-back wins against their division rival in 2013 and 2014. They lost last years final game against the Patriots splitting the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Dolphins haven’t swept the Patriots since December 24th, 2000. If Miami wants to buck that this year they will need to beat the Patriots on Thursday night to have a shot later in the season.

The Dolphins are playing good football right now. In fact you could say they are playing great football because they are. The Patriots however are the best team in the NFL and despite some close games this year they have only scored less than 30 one time. The opening game against Pittsburgh. Miami will have to beat an offensive juggernaut if they want this winning streak to continue.

The question of whether the Dolphins can or can’t is really not as important as whether the team can keep this momentum and compete. Three weeks ago the Dolphins would have been heavy underdogs and while they still head into the game almost eight points down, Miami is on an upswing that has fans believing they have a shot.

Now to play “Debbie-Downer”.

Miami has played great the last two weeks but they don’t match well against New Englands offense. Miami doesn’t play well against top tight ends and Rob Gronkowski is the best in the NFL. They also have problems when facing good slot receivers and the Patriots have a lot of weapons offensively at the receiver position. They lack a major deep threat but they don’t need to beat you deep.

The key for the Dolphins is pressure. Pressure on Tom Brady. Consistent pressure every play. It has to be quick pressure too as Brady is very quick releasing the football and will hit the short routes easily to move the chains. This is where the Dolphins will have a problem.

Despite the fact that Miami has played well the last two weeks they still have problems at middle linebacker and cornerback opposite Brent Grimes. Jamar Taylor has been playing a lot better and the Dolphins are getting plays out of their back-ups but Tom Brady is nothing like Brian Hoyer or Marcus Mariota. He is one of the best in the game. The Dolphins will have problems showing the Patriots defensive looks that they can’t handle.

Which brings us full circle back to pressure.

This game is going to be decided by Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, and the other defensive lineman who will be tasked with stopping both Brady and the running of Dion Lewis and Leggarette Blount. If the Dolphins can manage to do that, the pendulum swings to the offensive side of the ball where Miami may be able to exploit the weaknesses in the Patriots defense.

The Dolphins are not a deep threat team but they are very good at working the areas behind the linebackers. New England has a good defense but the Dolphins new found offensive line play should be able to keep them from rattling Ryan Tannehill. Miami will need to be ready to role Tannehill out into space and utilize the running back screen as well. Offensively the biggest key may be the legs and production of Lamar Miller.

Miller was unhappy with his half-time benching against the Texans. The Dolphins wanted him fresh for Thursday night and the game, 41-0 at half time was well under control. Miller has been explosive the last two weeks and the Dolphins need to open running lanes for him against the Patriots. Long sustained drives will be a big factor in keeping Tom Brady off the field. If the Dolphins offense can maintain their two week production, we may actually see something resembling a shootout and that would be rare for these two teams over the past 15 years.

Miami can beat the Patriots but sadly reality tells me they will not. The game will likely be closer than the scoreboard will show but I do believe that the Patriots will hit 30 points minimum and the Dolphins won’t make to the number. Dan Campbell has to be at his coaching best this week and with the short week of practice and early travel time he may not get to implement everything he wants for the game.

When it comes down to the game itself it will be the players and their execution that will deliver the outcome. The Dolphins players can not afford to let up if they have a lead and they can’t get down if they fall behind quickly which is possible. The Patriots play every game tough regardless of the opponent and they would like nothing more than to deliver the first loss to the Dolphins interim head coach.

The last time the Dolphins beat the Patriots in Foxboro was way back in September of 2008 when they surprised the NFL and rolled out the Wild Cat. Miami may just need another trick up their sleeve if they are going to return to Miami Thursday night with their third win under Dan Campbell.