Tua Tagovailoa has yet to lose to the Patriots but this game isn't last year for the Miami Dolphins and it isn't the year before. On paper, the Patriots don't look like a team that is destined for the postseason but this is game both teams need to win, have to win.
The Dolphins are starting to become the darlings of the NFL but the Patriots stand in their way. A tough, disciplined defense will do whatever it takes to remove Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle from the Dolphins game plan. In a perfect world for New England, they will force the Dolphins to win with their running game.
For the Dolphins, the Patriots offense isn't full of pass-catching playmakers but they have a physical rushing attach that sets up the pass. Bill O'Brien is a capable offensive coordinator that will make Mac Jones look like superstar.
The challenges for each team are the same, stop each other's offense from taking over the game. The Patriots will try and control the clock and the Dolphins will try and control the tempo. For both teams, it's not a must-win but it is a game they both need to win.
For the Patriots, a loss will drop them to 0-2. For the Dolphins, a loss puts them 1-1 but it would be worse for Miami. This is a division game and when a team is hunting for a division championship, division games are the most important.
In the AFC East, the Dolphins need to stay aware that they are not just chasing the Bills but also being chased by the Jets who took a big hit last week with the loss of Aaron Rodgers.
Miami has the head-to-head tie breaker with the Chargers and now, an opportunity to keep a game up on the Bills and add a victory to their divisional record as well.
Miami will face the Patriots twice in the first half of the season and will face the Bills in few weeks. That is a game that will be Miami's biggest challeng of the year but losing the Patriots will open a door early in the season for Buffalo.
Miami should be able to beat New England on the road and if the Dolphins are not simply pretending to be a compeitor in 2023, they have to beat the teams they are supposed to beat and that is, at the core of this game, important.
Heading home in week three with a 2-0 record sets Miami for a strong start to the season with the Broncos heading to Miami for the team's home opener. They have to beat the Patriots first and the more convincing the better but they can't sleep on them. The Patriots know their backs are up against a wall as well.
Starting the season 0-2 with both losses coming at home is not the start a Bill Belichick coached team is used to and it could start the team on downward course for the season.