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Patriots vs. Dolphins: Spread Info, Line and Predictions

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24:   Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots catches a pass despite the defense of Kevin Burnett #56 of the Miami Dolphins in the second half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2012

The Miami Dolphins (5-6) are a game out of the AFC playoff race after Ryan Tannehill had his first 4th quarter comeback of his career against Seattle. They need a Pittsburgh Steeler collapse down the stretch and to keep winning as much as possible.

This week, though, the New England Patriots (8-3) are coming to town.

The same Patriots that scored 49 and 59 in blowouts win the last two weeks. Tom Brady and Co. turned potential close games into flat-out shellackings, with their signal-caller throwing for an average of 328 yards and three touchdowns.

New England will look for their sixth straight win and will win the AFC East, as NFL on ESPN displays:

The @ravens, @atlanta_falcons, @patriots and @denver_broncos can all clinch division titles this week - twitter.com/ESPNNFL/status…

— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 29, 2012

The Dolphins have other ideas.

For an all-inclusive game preview, keep reading.

Where: Sun Life Stadium 

When: Sunday, December 2 at 1 p.m. ET

Watch: CBS 

Live Stream: NFL.com

 

Spread: Patriots (-9), Over/Under: 51 (both via Bovada)

The line opened at -7.5 on Monday, but has creeped up to nine since then.  

Simply put, Vegas thinks the lines should be set just over a touchdown, because the one-and-a-half point move does not cross any key numbers.

The Patriots have been favored on both sides of a touchdown the last two weeks and have blown both spreads out of the water. It seems oddsmakers are waiting for the Pats to have a let-down performance.

Still, it’s tough to favor taking the points considering how New England has executed recently.

Injury Report (via CBS Sports as of 11/29/12)

New England Patriots

S

Patrick Chung

Shoulder, hamstring

Questionable

WR

Julian Edelman

Concussion

Questionable

TE

Rob Gronkowski

Forearm, hip

Out

TE

Aaron Hernandez

Ankle

Questionable

LB

Dont'a Hightower

Hamstring

Questionable

DE

Chandler Jones

Ankle

Questionable

WR

Brandon Lloyd

Knee

Probable

Miami Dolphins

WR

Davone Bess

Wrist

Probable

CB

Nolan Carroll

Neck

Probable

LB

Karlos Dansby

Biceps

Probable

TE

Anthony Fasano

Hip

Questionable

S

Reshad Jones

Thumb

Probable

RB

Daniel Thomas

Knee, Ankle

Probable

Update: ESPN’s AFC East blogger James Walker gives the skinny on injuries at both team’s practices on Thursday:

RT @jameswalkerespn: Everyone practiced for #Dolphins Thursday. For #Patriots, DE Chandler Jones, Gronk and Logan Mankins didn't practice.

— James Walker (@espn_afceast) November 29, 2012

Fantasy Big Plays

New England: Wes Welker

Tom Brady’s security blanket has killed the Miami Dolphins in nine career games against them, catching an average of eight receptions and 109 yards against his former team.

While Miami’s defense has improved this season, their pass defense has yet to be exposed because they haven’t played an elite offense since they played Houston in Week 1.

Welker will be utilized to move the chains on third downs, which should equal a happy day for PPR owners.

As if he wasn’t already a must-start, Welker should be motivated to rack up fantasy points against his former team.

Miami: Reggie Bush

The Patriots have had their troubles with lightning-quick running backs this season, and Reggie Bush succinctly fits the mold.

The Dolphins bell cow had a impressive day against the staunch Seahawk defense the previous week, rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots rush defense, while highly ranked, would be wise to watch the film carefully on No. 22.

Bush should try to emulate his fellow AFC East tailback C.J. Spiller and the performance he put on the Pats defense three weeks ago. Spiller cranked out 131 yards on 13 touches, certainly causing the New England staff’s headaches throughout the game.

Expect the same from Reggie in Miami, to the excitement of his fantasy owners. Bush is a high RB2 option for Week 13 in standard leagues.

Key to Victory

The Dolphins Pass Defense Getting Tom Brady Off the Field

The Miami defense hasn’t been so lucky when Tom Brady comes to town and the ingredients aren’t much different in 2012.

While the Dolphins’ secondary has only given up 14 touchdowns in 2012, they surrender an average of 261.7 yards per contest, good for sixth-worst in the league. Plus I’ve already suggested their lack of elite quarterbacks on the schedule this season, which has amplified their numbers.

Palm Beach Post’s Ethan J. Skolnick takes a cue from Gregg Popovich’s tactics Thursday night and hopes the Dolphins get so lucky weekend:

The Dolphins can only hope that Belichick does the same with Brady, Welker and Mayo. They look tired. Stay home in New England.

— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) November 29, 2012

Therefore, the Dolphins will have to put on an otherworldly performance to hang with the Patriots offense, one more likely in Week 17 when New England may have nothing to play for.

Prediction

Miami is much improved, but the talent level between these two squads still heavily favors New England. The Dolphins can’t make enough big plays to stick around within a touchdown.

Final Score: New England 31, Miami 21

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