3. Win the turnover battle
This is sort of a cheap one (as it could apply to any game) but it is especially important in these hard fought divisional matchups. I know some people are predicting an offensive explosion from Miami and an easy victory against the Patriots, but I wouldn’t be so sure.
This is a defense that is returning multiple starters and overall a much improved roster from 2020. Bill Belichick is playing one of his former proteges that defeated him in their last meeting of 2020. It will be the first home game in Foxborough with a full stadium since 2019. I don’t think I need to keep listing reasons, but win or lose this should be a close game.
This final key also ties into the previous two. If Miami can keep Tua clean, he is less likely to make a mistake or force a pass that he shouldn’t. If Mac Jones is forced to drop back 40 or 50 times this Sunday, his chances of making a mistake go up significantly.
Like Tua, Jones doesn’t have the strongest arm in the NFL. He makes his money with timing, accuracy, and anticipation. If you shrink those windows and speed things up, the rookie is likely to struggle. Like I stated previously, the game script is also likely to be a major factor in the turnover battle. If Miami gets out to an early lead, expect a ton of exotic blitz packages to confuse Mac Jones and force him into bad decisions.
Final thoughts and prediction
These first two games of the season are going to be perfect for gauging Miami’s progress heading into 2021. They don’t need to defeat both opponents, but an 0-2 start could be a tough thing to battle back from in a log-jammed AFC. The Bills (their week two opponent) are clearly one of the best teams in the NFL, so this game in New England should be the easier victory.
Luckily for Miami, there are some matchups that they can take advantage of. Even without Will Fuller V, this receiving corps has some serious depth and talent. DeVante Parker has had some of his best games against the Patriots and it wouldn’t surprise me if he reclaimed some of the spotlight that Jaylen Waddle and Albert Wilson took this offseason.
Outside of those three, Miami also has Mike Gesicki, Preston Williams, Jakeem Grant, Mack Hollins, Salvon Ahmed, and Myles Gaskin who all performed well as pass catchers this pre season and training camp. I don’t think the Patriots have the players to matchup with Miami’s weapons-especially without Stephon Gilmore and Jalen Mills. If Tua has time to throw, they’ll score early and force Mac Jones to beat them with his arm-not a good situation for New England.
27-21 Miami Dolphins victory