The 5 Miami Dolphins players that will decide tonight's victory over the Patriots or cause them to lose

The NFL can sometimes be a game of inches and sometimes a game of seconds, for the Miami Dolphins, tonight's game could come down to the play of five individuals, or the lack of play.

Sep 10, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA;   Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) is
Sep 10, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) is / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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When tonight's division contest between the Miami Dolphins and the Patriots begins, we expect the game to ride on the arm of Tua Tagovailoa and the speed of Tyreek Hill but we also have to believe that the Patriots are going to take away the two best weapons on offense and that means others need to step up.

If you are betting on another 150 plus yard game from Tyreek Hill you may want to think again. Hill is going to get his looks but the Patriots defense is going to stack coverage against him and force the Dolphins to look elsewhere.

Jaylen Waddle

Waddle is likely going to see one-on-one coverage as the Patriots roll help over the middle to account for Tyreek Hill. To start the game I would suspect that the Patriots' scheme will be to try and take both Hill and Waddle out of the game but it might be Waddle who makes them adjust.

Waddle is often overlooked given the presence of Hill but he is nearly as fast, runs perfect routes, and often will draw man coverage that he can beat. The Dolphins need to try and feed him the ball as much as they can early. If they can do that successfully, the Patriots will have to shift toward covering Waddle and that will open Hill.

Conversely, if the Patrios can take away both Waddle and Hill, Miami has to go to Braxton Berrior and River Cracraft often or get Durham Smythe involved again. Quick passing is the only way to beat the Patriots front rush and keep Tua from getting into trouble.

Mike McDaniel has to have Tua prepared for tertiary receivers and outlets. This may be a case of working from the bottom up and if that is a success, Hill and Waddle should open as well.

Waddle however is a key to this game because he can play underneath and split the field. Miami has to get him involved in that part of the passing game and more importantly, Waddle has to hold on to the ball. If Waddle can't get going, it will allow the Patriots to stack against Hill and man-up on Waddle.