When the Dolphins kick off today against the Patriots, fans can expect a punch-in-the-face fist fight from start to finish. Nothing would please Bill Belichick more than to know off the Dolphins and get his team back in the AFC East hunt.
Conversely, the Dolphins are trying to stay one step ahead of the Buffalo Bills who beat the Buccaneers on Thursday night.
if the Dolphins are going to win today, it will need to be a total team effort but three players will stand out the most.
David Long, Jr. will play a big role in the Miami Dolphins defense and it could be game defining.
The Patriots don't scare anyone with their passing game and even if the Dolphins sit out Xavien Howard for another week, Kader Kohou, and returning players Nik Needham and Jalen Ramsey should be able to hold the Patriots in check.
That means that Belichick and OC Bill O'Brien will need to rely on their run game and Rhamondre Stevenson to control the clock, the tempo, and more importantly keep Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense off the field.
This is where David Long, Jr. comes into play. Long has been playing very well the last couple of weeks and he brings both intensity and physicality to the defense. Long won't be shadowing Mac Jones like he needed to do at times with Jalen Hurts last week. He will be a bullet train traveling to the ball carrier.
Long has the speed to chase and close outside and also the vision to react inside and support the defensive tackles. Today, he will need to keep Stevenson from impacting the game.
With the Miami Dolphins losing Jevon Holland for today's game, Brandon Jones needs to step up and become the player we know he can be.
Brandon Jones is in line to get the start in place of Jevon Holland and his first start this year will be an important one.
It isn't clear what Vic Fangio will do with Jones. Holland has shown his versatility but Jones we still have some questions about. They could run a single-high look with DeShon Elliot and use Jones in run support or as a coverage safety to the tight end. Fangio could also use the 2-deep safety look.
Either way, Jones needs to step up and support the guys in front of him. Bill O'Brien will challenge the secondary but we know that Mac Jones can be erratic and inconsistent. Jones should be able to get into position to force mistakes. At the same time, if Jones can't step up, we could see Jones take advantage.
Braxton Berrios could be the key holder to the Miami Dolphins offensive success on Sunday.
We have to assume that Bill Belichick will take away Miami's deep offense and force them to play underneath their coverage. By taking away Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill by keeping them in front of their secondary, Braxton Berrios could be the big beneficiary.
Berrios has quality speed and runs good routes. So far, he is only averaging around 30 yards per carry, actually a little under that. Today, he could see a bigger role in the offense and if Tua can take advantage of Berrios being covered by a linebacker, he could have a big game.
Berrios should be able to extend drives and if the Dolphins can keep themselves in short yardage situations, Berrios is a perfect decoy to spring the Dolphins running game as well.