Miami Dolphins And New England Patriots: The Battle for the AFC East

Roy DanielContributor IOctober 21, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 21: Coach Bill Belichick of the New england Patriots shakes hands with coach Tony Sparano of the Miami Dolphins after a 38-13 Dolphin win at Gillette Stadium on September 21, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins are currently 2-3, but they could very well be 4-1.  Miami should have won the games against the Colts and Chargers if it were not for missed opportunities.

However, we cannot change history and we must move forward.  We must learn from our mistakes and avoid repeating them.

Now that the bye week is out of the way, the Dolphins have an uninterrupted 11 game schedule.

Like I said in an article at the start of the season, I think that the Dolphins can win the AFC East and secure a playoff spot. 

Looking at the worst case scenario, out of the Dolphins remaining 11 games, there are eight winnable games. 

The three games in question would be against the Saints, Steelers, and one of the two games against the Patriots.  That would leave the Dolphins with a 10-6 record.

The only obstacle that is standing in the way is the New England Patriots.  I hear all of this talk that the Patriots are looking like the Patriots of 2007.

That could not be further from the truth as most of these people are basing this on the week six game where the Patriots dominated the helpless Titans.  I would be more impressed if they blew out the Steelers or Ravens.

Based on their first six games, the Patriots could very easily be 2-4 vice 4-2.  They could have easily lost the game against the Bills and should have lost to the Ravens.  In my opinion, the Patriots are at best are a .500 team at this point in the season.

With that said, if the Dolphins can take one of the games against the Patriots, then that would cause the Patriots to end with a record of 10-6 and a tie for the AFC East with the Dolphins.

I am basing the Patriots record off of potential losses to the Dolphins, Colts, Saints, and Texans.  Yes, I think the Texans can beat the Patriots.

That would cause the tiebreaker to be decided by the divisional record.  Again, based off of my estimates, the Dolphins would end up with a 5-1 division record as opposed to the Patriots with a 4-2 record.

However, if the Dolphins can pull the upset against the Saints, the Dolphins could very well win the division out right.

If the Dolphins are to take one game from the Patriots, they are going to need to run the ball early and often and will need to find a way to neutralize Tom Brady.

The Patriots have a platoon of running backs, but none of them are that effective.  Therefore, the Dolphins should not have any problems with stopping the run. 

This will allow the Dolphins to focus their effort on stopping Brady.  They will need to apply constant pressure and the secondary must play the Patriots receivers close and hard. 

While the Patriots stop the pass fairly efficiently, they have issues with stopping the run.  Fortunately, the Dolphins like to run which will allow them to dictate the pace of the game.

As far as the Dolphins passing game goes, Chad Henne needs to play smart and manage the game.  If he can avoid costly mistakes and focus on managing the offense, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams can do the rest. 

The Dolphins have a good enough team to win the division and while some people in the media think that the Patriots are going to run the table and win another Super Bowl, they may want to think again.

The Dolphins are better than what everyone is giving them credit for and they have what it takes to sneak in and steal the AFC East.