The New England Patriots are set to host the Miami Dolphins in one hour in Foxborough.
Both teams are looking to bounce back from division losses by field goals. I hate calling a game this early a must win but it really is a must win game for both teams. The Dolphins need it to stay afloat and the Patriots need it to avoid a 2 game losing streak and to get back their firm hold on the division.
I will preview the game today below.
The Patriots are looking to do some major patch work on defense today because they will be without Kelly, and Aqib Talib on defense. Kelly hurts the run defense worse than what it already is and Talib is a major blow to the pass defense.
The way I look for New England to patch things up in the secondary is to take away Tannehill’s number one guy so far through the season and that is Brian Hartline, not Mike Wallace. Hartline is bigger than Wallace and so far has had more impact this season because of the trust between he and Tannehill.
Kyle Arrington will have the biggest task of the day when he tries to stop Brian Hartline in the slot. Arrington had a hard time stopping Jeremy Kerley last week against the Jets and if Arrington starts things off like that then things could get real ugly. Since Hartline is their number one guy, I would want to put Dennard on him to shut him out completely and hurt the passing attack of Miami. But if Arrington is on him then Arrington faces the toughest challenge he has seen and will need to step up his game to help the defense.
Dennard will be on Wallace and hopefully Dennard will shut him down which I fully expect him too. He has been the 2nd best corner behind Talib on the team and when they play they shut the passing game down.
Arrington could stick with Wallace because of Arrington’s speed and the Pats could provide safety help over the top with McCourty but I expect to see Dennard here.
Logan Ryan will face off against Brandon Gibson, a matchup to watch in this game. Gibson has had some big games this season where he has went off and against a rookie he may again. We will see how well the rookie holds up today on the outside against Gibson but I expect it to be a good back and forth match. Gibson needs to be held in check but he could be an x- factor.
The run defense is hurting badly for New England, they have lost Wilfork, Mayo, and now Kelly will miss another game. They will continue their patch work job till Kelly gets back but it will be tough sledding again. They gave up some runs up the middle against the Saints and the Jets. Brandon Spikes, Chris Jones, and whoever else Belichick plugs in to stop the run needs to step up. I think when Kelly gets back the run defense will be better than what it is but until then the Pats will have to wing it. Today they face a good running back in Miller but behind a poor OL. That may be the key for the Pats stopping the run.
The Dolphins have a bad line and the Patriots should try to take advantage of it. Chris Jones has had good ability to get pressure up the middle but may find that hard against Pouncey. I’d move him away from him on passing downs to get him involved in pass rushing. I expect Jones to have an impact on this game, might be a bad one, but I expect impact today. Chandler Jones is in a favorable match and should create havoc, but they may double him which would leave Ninkovich in a good position. The Patriots SHOULD get a form of pass rush and if they don’t, wow what can we say about their inability to pass rush?
Offensively it really comes down to one thing, protecting Tom Brady.
As bad as Miami’s offensive line has been, the Pats OL has been just as bad. Brady has been hit 20 times and sacked 13xs in the last 3 games. That doesn’t equal success and the Pats are 1 – 2 in that stretch. The Pats offensive line have a hard day against some stout Dolphins D – Line today but can they finally answer the bell? We will see in an hour but I have my doubts. Hopefully they will keep the struggling to a minimal. Everybody keeps talking about Tom Brady but I’m talking about the offensive line. They are not doing their job in protecting him. Brady will see ghost in the pocket, get happy feet, and throw bad passes when he is worried about being hit a 100xs. Can’t blame him.
Hopefully today the Pats and Brady won’t force it to Rob Gronkowski too much and look to get Amendola, Edelman, and Collie more involved in the offense. Those 3 guys and Gronk can really make this offense go and score a lot of points so hopefully with protection the Pats will score some touchdowns.
The Patriots also need to stick to the running game more. The offensive line is actually pretty good in the run game, and Ridley has been great the past few games. For some reason the Pats keep going away from him in some games and the run game entirely. Today they should feed a heavy dose to Ridley to help with play action and help make protection easier for Tom Brady.