Preview: Patriots vs. Dolphins

The New England Patriots (5-2) were winning 21-10 at halftime against the AFC East rival New York Jets. Then, the second half collapse commenced. The Jets were able to pound the ball on the ground with over 170 yards of rushing. Then, the controversial play happened in overtime. We all know by now New England was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on a Nick Folk 56 yard missed field goal which led the Jets to trying a shorter field goal to win the game. As for the positives, rookie cornerback Logan Ryan had an interception for a touchdown (celebration aside) and tight end Rob Gronkowski had a great return with eight catches for 114 yards. New England looks to get back on track with another division game this weekend at home.

The season started off great for the Miami Dolphins. Since starting the season 3-0, they have lost their last three games in a row. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was the story with comeback wins. However, he has thrown five interceptions in his last three games. Usually, Miami's strength has been their defense, but injuries have put this unit in the bottom half of the league in many defensive categories. The Dolphins did make a trade this week to help their offensive line by acquiring veteran Bryant McKinnie from the Ravens for a conditional late-round draft pick.

Here are my keys for this weekend's game in Foxboro:

  1. Run Of the Miller: With the Dolphins losing Reggie Bush in the offseason, head coach Joe Philbin was hoping that second year running back Lamar Miller was ready for a breakout season. Halfway thru the year, there has been no signs of that. Miller has failed to run for 70 yards nor has had more than 14 carries in a game. Miami has transitioned into more of a two back team with Daniel Thomas seeing more production. Last week, Thomas had 12 carries for 60 yards in their loss to the Bills last week. With Miami's offensive line in flux, they need to run the ball better this week to put less pressure on Tannehill against an improving Pats' pass rush.

  2. Time Running Out For 60 Minutes: The Dolphins made a South Beach splash in the offseason when they signed wide receiver Mike Wallace. This move was supposed to be the one that helped Tannehill, but Wallace has only had one touchdown this season. It's not as if he hasn't been given the opportunity since he has three games of double digit targets. The problem for Wallace this week is Talib is probably going to play this weekend.  We saw Jeremy Kerley have nearly 100 yards against the Patriots. A similar player on Miami that could have a big game is Brandon Gibson. Gibson has 5+ catches in three of his last four games and had two touchdowns against Buffalo last week.

  3. “Waking Up” The Offensive Line: The Patriots' offensive line has been one of their weakest units this season. They have allowed Tom Brady to hit the deck 20 times this season. Normally, I would expect it to be Cameron Wake who has the big game for the Dolphins. The one problem with that is Wake hasn't been the same since his 2.5 sack game in the opener due to a knee injury. The two players to watch on the Dolphins' defensive lien are Randy Starks and Olivier Vernon. They have a combined 6.5 sacks between them. That is nearly half of the team's 17 sacks. New England has to put more of an emphasis on using Stevan Ridley in this game to set up the play action and give Brady more time in the pocket.

PREDICTION

There is a strong chance wide receiver Danny Amendola will be back in the lineup after the head injury he suffered against the Saints. As for my prediction, this is where the Patriots' offense is going to open up and be more balanced. Brady targeted Gronkowski a ton last week, but I think the Patriots' quarterback will be able to spread the wealth in the passing game this week. I liked the Dolphins to start the season, but their lack of balance on offense is going to cause Ryan Tannehill into some turnovers. Patriots bounce back with a nice win.

PATRIOTS 31 DOLPHINS 20

Ricky Keeler

About Ricky Keeler

I am a senior at St. John's University, where I am majoring in sports management. I have been writing game previews here at Foxboro Blog for each of the last four seasons. Plus, you can catch my Yankees' coverage over at YanksGoYard.com.

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