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We are almost a quarter of the way through the NFL season and your Miami Dolphins are undefeated. They have an enormous opportunity to make a statement this Sunday in Foxboro and send the dreaded New England Patriots to a 1-3 record. Game time is 1 PM, the Pats are currently favored by 7 with a 47.5 O/U.

At first I didn't appreciate the importance of this game because it is still early in the season. On the road against the Pats usually spells disaster for Miami. They haven't won in New England since the Wildcat game in 2008 and I think that is potentially a good omen for the Dolphins. It takes creativity on offense to beat a Bill Belichick defense and Head Coach Adam Gase is not holding back this year. New England is wounded, frustrated and not nearly as talented as previous seasons. If, and that is a big IF, Miami can beat them they will have won two division road games before October 1st and will have found a much easier path to the playoffs.

After a standard Patriots style victory in Week 1, New England has lost two straight with their offense being invisible. Tom Brady was visibly frustrated and appeared to mail it in against Detroit on Sunday evening. I can't say I blame him as GM Belichick has decided to go cheap and attempt to win with everyone else's cast offs. The X factor this week could be recently acquired WR Josh Gordon. He is big, fast and certainly a playmaker when he is focused on football. The New England offense is complicated and all about timing so I'm not sure he'll be a center piece. Rob Gronkowski will continue to be a nightmare matchup and Brady usually finds ways to get his running backs heavily involved in the passing game. For New England to snap out of its funk they'll need to get their guys in space and expose Miami's coverage and tackling issues.

New England's defense ranks 25th in yards allowed and a staggering 30th in rushing yards allowed. Don't fall for the trap just yet as we saw Oakland do everything in its power to limit Miami's ground game, or so we thought. While they were credited as receptions, the Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant shovel receptions were clearly more running plays that had excellent blocking and explosive speed. Belichick doesn't want running backs Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore wearing down the defense with consistent 5 or 6 yard carries. Adam Gase will need to dial up some trickery to keep New England off balance, and, make sure that QB Ryan Tannehill uses his legs as well as his arm to keep the chains moving.

Speaking of Tannehill, he is delivering how I expected so far. Steady, some flashes but otherwise nothing eye popping. Quite frankly that is how I like it. Limit your mistakes and seize opportunities which he has done with some nice touchdown throws. He will need to be on point and make a few clutch throws down field. The Patriots secondary only has one interception this season (the other two were from LBs) and has given up 7 touchdown passes.

One thing Miami has not been is consistent in any facet of the game. The offense has been slow and played complimentary ball when the defense provides turnovers. The defense has given up a lot of chunk plays but redeemed themselves with interceptions. New England is not the type of opponent where you can do that because Tom Brady limits mistakes and Bill Belichick seems to always find a way to win at home. The Dolphins need to have Drake/Gore/Tannehill produce over 100 yards rushing, Tannehill to throw or guide the team to at least 3 TDs, and the defense has to prevent extended drives.

The best way to stop Brady is with constant pressure and Miami is now without William Hayes and Andre Branch on the edges. We all know Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake will do their share and the some, but its time for Charles Harris to have a big boy game. Make Brady uncomfortable and throw off his rhythm. The secondary, probably Minkah Fitzpatrick in the slot, will need to eliminate Gronkowski and force Brady to throw to smaller targets. That should shorten up the field and create 3 and outs.

I try to go with what my gut tells me but instead will keep positive energy flowing for this team. There is definitely a new chemistry and different vibe. While it is highly unlikely they go into Foxboro and beat an angry Patriots squad I'm still going to predict the upset. At some point Miami is going to get punched in the mouth by an opponent but why apply that to this weekend.

Miami makes a statement.

Miami 23
New England 21

 

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