In their first meeting way back in early September, week 2, the Miami Dolphins got off to a fast start before the Patriots' defense put the clamps down and started to claw their way back into the game. Ultimately, the Dolphins won but this time around, both teams are a lot different than they were back then.
Since the Dolphins and Patriots played in Foxboro, the Dolphins have undergone quite a few changes. They have suffered through injuries and both the Bills and Eagles used pieces of the Patriots defensive blueprint to shut down the Dolphins offense.
The Patriots have been spiraling out of the AFC East but they are getting healthier and will have a couple of their offensive linemen back. The Patriots beat the Bills last week and the other win came against the Jets. The Dolphins have a chance to do what the other two teams in the East couldn't, sweep them.
When the Dolphins and Patriots play today, some things will look the same as they did in week 2.
Miami will still be without starting LT Terron Armstead who was inactive for the first meeting. Jaelan Phillips missed week two as did Cedrick Wilson. Both will be playing today.
Miami will also have Jalen Ramsey back but may lose Xavien Howard. They will be without Jevon Holland.
The Dolphins defense has been playing much better up front and Bradley Chubb, Christian Wilkins, Andrew Van Ginkel, David Long, and Phillips have started to produce. In week 2, the Miami front was still learning the ropes of the Vic Fangio scheme.
Those guys will play a big part in today's game. Putting constant pressure on Mac Jones will make a huge difference in the game. That pressure could turn into turnovers and that may be the biggest factor in this game.
Offensively, the Dolphins have to have a game plan to counter Bill Belichick's defensive scheme that will once again try and limit or take away Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. In week 2, they played a more physical game at the line of scrimmage to keep the timing off and then used two-deep safeties to take away the deep passes.
Miami's running game was good but not at the level it has become. Raheem Mostert will play today and the Dolphins rushing attack could be the catalyst for ball control and points. If the Patriots can't stop the Dolphins' run game, they will need to adjust and that will give Hill and Waddle more opportunity.
Because of the Dolphins offense, they can't be discounted. They were held down by the Eagles last week but I would believe Mike McDaniel will have a few things up his sleeve to keep the Patriots guessing.
Prediction: This game will be close early but I believe the Dolphins can jump out to a two-score lead that the Patriots will cut into in the 3rd quarter before Miami's defense forces the Patriots into mistakes that the offense will take advantage of. This game is going to be closer than the final score will look like.
Dolphins 27 - Patriots 17