Where: Dolphin Stadium
When: Sunday, 1:00 PM ET
- Dolphins: Out - QB Trent Green, DT Vonnie Holliday, S Travares Tillman; Questionable - TE David Martin, LB Zach Thomas; Probable - CB Will Allen, RB Ronnie Brown, NT Keith Traylor
- Patriots: Doubtful - RB Sammy Morris; Questionable - LB Eric Alexander, CB Randall Gay, RB Laurence Maroney, S Mel Mitchell, G Steve Neal, WR Donte' Stallworth, LB Adalius Thomas, WR Kelley Washington, TE Benjamin Watson, DE Mike Wright; Probable - QB Tom Brady
| Dolphins || Unit || Patriots |
| || Quarterbacks || + |
| + || Running backs || |
| || Receivers || + |
| || Offensive line || + |
| || Defensive line || + |
| || Linebackers || + |
| || Secondary || + |
| || Special teams || + |
| || Coaches || + |
| || Overall Advantage || + |
Keys to the Game:
- Can Miami mount an effective four-man pass rush? Miami is going to have to be able to consistently get in Tom Brady's face and pressure him in the pocket with just four men because they will need all the guys they can to stay back in coverage. Obviously, no one on the team can cover Randy Moss one-on-one, so a safety must stay on him. Of course, even if Moss can somehow be stopped, there is still Stallworth and Welker to deal with. And to top it off, the Patriots execute screen passes perfectly. If Miami can't get to Brady with only four guys upfront, then they will have to send additional guys on blitzes, and that will inevitably open up space in the secondary for receivers to settle down and Brady will find them if they are open - guaranteed.
- How long can Miami sustain its ground game before resorting to a pass-first mindset? Ronnie Brown and the offensive line will need to have a big day if Miami is going to have a shot at winning this game. The ball needs to stay out of Tom Brady's hands, and the only way to do that is by churning up the clock. If Miami falls behind early, Cam Cameron will probably abandon the run as he has done in the past. The game can be kept close if Miami can avoid quick three and outs on offense.
- How much magic will be in the air? If you look at my previous post, you'll see that Brady historically struggles in Miami. Will history repeat itself? How opportunistic will Miami's defense be in coming away with turnovers. Can Ted Ginn Jr. do as he did last week and take one to the house (albeit without the penalty this time)? Miami can't win this battle straight up. They need to create turnovers and make the most of their opportunities with the football. It's happened plenty of times before. It can certainly happen again.
- Miami: DE Jason Taylor - He has sacked Brady in every game that Brady has played in Miami and generally been the biggest disruptive force in those games. For some reason, Brady and the Pats offensive line crumbles under Taylor's skill and sheer force of will. It will be crucial for him to keep up that level of play.
- New England: QB Tom Brady - Brady takes loads of sacks when he plays in Miami and often looks like a completely different player, making stupid decisions and turning the ball over. Will he overcome his problems in Miami or will he put up another dud? If the Pats can't count on Brady, they will have to rely on a running game that may be without both Maroney and Morris.
I simply can't ignore the way these games have played out in the past. But I'm also a reasonable person. Therefore I'm going to give two predictions this week. You can call it a cop-out; I call it covering the bases.
If things play out as assumed, then the Pats win 35-16.
If things play out as they usually do when the Pats visit Miami, then Miami wins 30-28.