Mac Jones and his New England Patriots are riding a wave after beating the Buffalo Bills in week 7. They would like nothing better to make it two-in-a-row against division rivals. The Miami Dolphins might have something to say about that.
When looking at the big Bills loss to the Patriots, it wasn't some big effort by the Patriot's offense that won the game but a well-schemed defensive effort that held the Bills to
New England held the Bills to only three points in the first half and ten through three quarters. It wasn't until the Bills defense stepped up and forced a fumble that they were able to climb back into the game but a fumble of their own clinched the victory for New England on the last drive.
This week, we know that the Patriots will put up a huge defensive effort against the Dolphins. They will take advantage of the injured offensive line, they will keep Tyreek Hill out of the game plan, should he play, and they will clamp Jaylen Waddle as well forcing the Dolphins to win with a ground game and depth wide receivers.
Bill Belichick will watch what the Eagles did to Miami and scheme to create pressure on Tua Tagovailoa but in the end, it is what the Dolphins defense does that will keep Miami on top when the game is over.
Miami's defense has to put pressure, constant pressure, on Mac Jones. He can be erratic when he is under duress. The Dolphins are getting healthy in the secondary and that will create a problem for Jones as well.
The Dolphins have to be more diligent in covering the tight end and allowing 3rd down conversions. If they can keep Jones confused, he will make mistakes and the Dolphins defense will create turnovers.
Miami's defense has been playing well lately and getting pressure on the QB hasn't been a problem. For all the grief tossed at Bradley Chubb, he is playing at a level consistent with his salary and expectations from the team.
Rhamondre Stephenson is a tough runner but the Dolphins were able to hold him in check the first time and the Patriots run game isn't nearing the level expected entering the season. They currently have 598 yards total rushing yards. Consider the Dolphins have nearly twice as much.
With the running game suffering, the Patriots who have also played from behind most of the year, have turned to throwing the ball a lot more. That is where Miami's secondary needs to step up.
Creating turnovers and bad field positions will give the Dolphins offense a better field to work with. Yes, this is common sense but if the Patriots are going to play Miami like other teams that have had success stopping the Dolphins' offense, starting with a good position could be the difference in the game.
Statistically, the Patriots are not a team that should be able to keep up with the Dolphins and New England may struggle later in the game as heat takes a toll, yes, it is hot in late October too. That being said, the Patriots don't quit and play physically. They have beaten the Bills and would like nothing more than to climb further up the AFC East ladder.
The Dolphins offense needs to score points but the defense needs to set those opportunities up.