The Dolphins have nothing to play for in this game except pride. New England is already in the playoffs but are hoping the Texans will falter giving them a second seed in the playoffs. It is a question mark on which team will be more focused and ready to play the season finale in New England. The Patriots main goal should be to stay healthy and of course win, but stay healthy. The Patriots can’t afford to lose anymore heavy hitters on either side of the ball. Rob Gronkowski shouldn’t play even if he is healthy to ensure he’s 100% for the playoff games because having Aaron Hernandez and Gronkowski on the field is a must if the Patriots want to get through the playoffs.
What to Watch For:
1. Patriots passing attack: The Patriots best weapon on the whole team is QB Tom Brady and whoever he throws too. How well will his receivers get open and is there a good redzone weapon not named Rob Gronkowski on the team is one thing to look at tomorrow. The passing game will go against a bad pass defense tomorrow but it didn’t help New England the first time around as the Dolphins held Tom Brady to his third lowest passing yards this season. For Tom Brady to be Tom Brady he needs to be protected by his offensive line, who have struggled against great passing rushing teams, which is a concern going into the playoffs. The offensive line shows up some games and then doesn’t the other games, whoever comes up with the better schemes usually win the battle. New England should keep it a easy game plan for tomorrow’s game, and show nothing of what they might do in the playoffs.
2. Rushing attack: The Patriots should look to rush the ball a lot more in this game to not only protect Brady but not show what their offense might do in the playoffs. The Patriots want to win and they want the game to be over as fast as possible with no injuries, and it is a good way to work on Ridley and ball protection. He absolutely can not fumble in a key moment in the playoffs like he has over the course of the season, but he should see the bulk of the carries throughout the game. How they will fair against a solid rushing defense remains to be seen but they should break off a few runs to have a fairly successful game.
3. The defense: The defense needs to slow down a passing attack for the sanity of their fan base. It seems more like a head ache every time they hit the field now a days. They (defense) are still the biggest concern for all Patriots supporters heading into the playoffs because they may have to the face Peyton Manning and his weapons, or the Texans offensive weapons on their turf this time. They (defense) seem to have the hardest time stopping medorice QBs then any others, and rookies. Ryan Tannehill is both of those descriptions. I think New England will not allow Tannehill to go crazy on them and slow down the spread option that the Dolphins love to run. Tannehill has been using his feet on spread option reads to pick up yards and first downs, but New England should worry least about this and worry more about the passing attack over the middle to the sometimes explosive Reggie Bush. The middle of the field is a weakness still for New England, but they have done a heck of a job covering it up here lately. The 49ners attacked the air and deep but New England’s defense wasn’t ready for that, it wasn’t in their game plan because they expected the 49ners to attack the ground, so I’ll give New England a break on that one, the 49ners pulled a fast one. The Dolphins won’t do that, they will do what works and that is attack the ground and work the spread option. New England’s defense has to have two focus in this game and that is stopping the run and stopping the spread option.