Unfortunately, Miami is entering this game knowing that two of its defensive starters have already been taken out of the game by injury (Crowder and Ferguson). Losing Ferguson is the biggest blow. New England has a pretty good if unspectacular running game, but without Ferguson manning the trenches in the middle, New England will have a much easier time nursing any lead by turning to its ground game.
And it's likely that Miami will have to mount a comeback at some point in this game since the Pats' aerial assault is second only to the Colts, and we all saw how Indy absolutely sliced and diced this secondary up in a matter of seconds.
Not only is Belichick scheming against two rookie corners and a first-year starting QB, but he's had the bye week to make sure everything's accounted for. If Miami can sneak anything past New England's scheme this week, it would be a tremendous surprise.
For my money, the Patriots are simply the best team in the league right now, regardless of their recent cream puff schedule. Too many factors are stacking up against the Dolphins for them to pull out the victory this week.
Of course, nothing ever surprises me about these Pats-Dolphins games, and Miami should know that a win this week is crucial to staying alive in the division. That being said, I'm picking the Pats to win this one. My season record is 4-3.
After last week's win, Miami's playoff chances now stand at 28.6%
I'd also like to take a moment to quickly address a few questions I received in the wake of last week's game:
Why couldn't the Dolphins offense get anything going with the Jets? Is it possible that Ginn could be great at kick off returns or wide receiver? Just not both at the same time?
First off, the Jets defense simply played the perfect scheme against Miami's offense, and we should all look for teams to copy that game-plan in the future until Miami proves it can adapt. The Jets were consistently bringing up to 8 or 9 defenders into the box to stop the run and they just derailed the offense by doing so. They pressured from the outside, giving Henne nowhere the scramble, and Miami's receivers could do nothing against the limited coverages they were seeing. Until these WRs and TEs can start getting open and making some plays, there's no reason why any team should worry about stacking the middle of the field against Miami.
As for Ginn, I've long said that he will not be a great receiver, no matter what his other responsibilities are. Good? Maybe, but even that's in doubt right now. If anything, I think his return skills are unquestioned and he could certainly be great in that arena. Of course, being heavily involved in the offense may negatively impact his success on special teams. Was his limited snap count the reason why he exploded on those two returns against the Jets? I'm not sure. It's easy to see how asking a guy to run 9-route after 9-route is going to wear him down and cause him to lose his burst as the game wears on. If that's the case, then Ginn definitely should see a reduced number of snaps at WR. I certainly don't advocate moving him to returner full-time, as he can definitely still be an asset on offense, but the coaching staff will have to pick and choose its moments more carefully. And if that is the plan moving forward, I think Ginn should be given the punt returning duties as well. Davone Bess does nothing for me in that role.