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The surging Miami Dolphins, 3-3 and coming off a convincing 44-26 win over the Houston Texans, travel to Foxboro to take on division rival, defending Super Bowl Champion and 6-0 New England Patriots on Thursday Night on CBS and the NFL Network.  The Patriots are coming off a tough division win over the New York Jets in Foxboro 30-23. The game is a 8:25 kickoff.

 

The question everyone has right now in regards to Miami is are they legit.  Some have said that the Dolphins have beaten the Titans and Texans, 2 struggling football teams.  And while this is true, the Dolphins not only beat those teams, they DOMINATED those teams.  The question for all will be answered in the game Thursday Night against the undefeated Patriots.

 

Let's take a look at the teams and how they will matchup.

 

Offensively, after the last 2 weeks, the Dolphins offense has taken major steps forward, generating 366.0 yards of total offense, which ranks 10th in the NFL.  The Dolphins are generating 248.5 yards in the passing game and 117.5 yards in the run game.  This ranks 13th & 14th respectively in the NFL.  Miami is scoring 24.5 points per game, ranking 9th in the NFL.  They face a New England defense giving up 358.7 yards per game, which ranks 15th in the NFL.  The Patriots are giving up 248.3 yards in the passing game, and are giving up 110.3 yards per game in the run game.  New England is giving up 21.0 points per game, which ranks 12th in the NFL.

 

When you face an offensive team as potent as the Patriots, you know you are going to have to score points.  QB Ryan Tannehill is coming off a 18-19, 4 touchdown performance last Sunday.  RB Lamar Miller, missing in action the 1st 4 games, had 14 carries for 175 yards last week against the Texans, after gaining over 100 yards the prior week against the Titans.  Both will have to have big games for the Dolphins Thursday Night, along with the rest of the skill position personnel.  I preach this all the time, but especially against a team like the Patriots, a balanced attack will be key.  You don't want the Patriots to be able to concentrate on one aspect of your offense because they have taken away one of the cogs.  The offensive line has been ROCK SOLID that past few weeks, and their improved play must continue.  Physical, balanced, smart offensive football is what the Dolphins will need Thursday Night.  Miami has had success against the Patriots, and I think they will again.

 

Defensively, the Dolphins come in giving up 369.8 yards in total offense, ranking 21st in the NFL.  The Dolphins are giving up 240.5 yards in the passing game, and are giving up 129.3 yards per game in the run game.  That ranks 14th & 30th in the NFL.  Miami is giving up 22.8 points per game, which ranks 15th in the NFL.  The Patriots come in generating 410.8 yards per game, which ranks 2nd in the NFL.  The Patriots are producing 327.2 yards per game in the passing game, and are averaging 83.7 yards in the run game.  The Patriots rank 2nd & 31st respectively in those catagories.  New England is scoring 35.5 points per game, which leads the NFL.

 

You look at those stats and you realize the task that the defense has in front of them.  Futre Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady is off to a blazing start and he has weapons around him.  TE Rob Grownkowski is the best in football, and in WR Julian Edleman, Danny Amendola and now Bradon LaFell back, the Patriots have very compontent wide receivers.  RB Dion Lewis gives them a RB that is good in the passing game and LeGarette Blount is the big power back.  THE KEY to this game defensively for Miami is the pass rush, PERIOD.  The Dolphins beat the Patriots in Miami last year because they constantly hit Brady and had constant pressure on him.  Pressure not only off the edge, but pressure up the middle.  Miami will need to use their depth along the defensive line to stay fresh, because with the Patriots, they don't mind throwing the ball all game long.  The run game for the Patriots has struggled, and the Dolphins cannot let them have any run game.  Miami MUST stop the run game.  CB Jamar Taylor will be tested, as will all of the defensive secondary.  They will have to have a solid game along with the linebackers.  The defense as a whole must play a solid game to have a chance against this Patriots offense.

 

Miami can answer one BIG question on Thursday Night against their AFC East rival.  Are these Dolphins for REAL.

 

 

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