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Kickoff: Monday, October 4th, 2010 at 8:30 PM ET, Sun Life Stadium (Miami, FL)
Records: Miami 2-1, New England 2-1
Spread: New England by 1
Last Week: Jets over Dolphins (31-23), Patriots over Bills (38-30)
Dolphins Injuries (Sep 30th): LB Ikaika Alama Francis (Probable), LB Channing Crowder (Questionable), RB Ronnie Brown (Questionable)
Patriots Injuries (Sep 30th): RB Fred Taylor (Questionable)
Miami Offense vs. New England Defense: The Patriots defense is vulnerable against the pass (25th in the NFL), so Miami has options offensively. Obviously the Dolphins are a running team and will try to establish the run before anything else.
Like most of the NFL, New England lacks someone in their secondary who can match up with Brandon Marshall one on one. The defense should pay plenty of attention to him, making running lanes plausible. This is not a Jets caliber defense. Miami shouldn’t have problems putting up points.
New England Offense vs. Miami Defense: This is the same New England offense of the last five years. They are the epitome of efficiency passing the football. Tom Brady is incredibly accurate (67 percent in 2010) and gets rid of the ball quickly. He is awfully tough to stop.
When Randy Moss and Wes Welker are his prime targets it becomes even tougher. The key will be getting pressure. Look for Miami to use controlled blitzes through out.
When I say controlled I mean picking your spots and not ever sending more than you have to. Rushing more than five guys and Brady will pick apart apart the defense more often than not. He’s too smart.
New England has also been pretty solid rushing the ball, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt. If that number isn’t lowered and Brady is facing third and short all day, the Dolphins defense will be in trouble.
Miami Impact Player: Cameron Wake LB—Getting pressure on Brady will be critical and Wake is the best pure pass rusher on the roster.
New England Impact Player: Tom Brady QB—He is one of the best quarterbacks of all time and can win a game by himself. What he does on the field is an art.
Quarterback—Chad Henne looked awesome last week against a stout Jets defense. Still, Brady is one of the best quarterbacks of the last few decades and has the rings to prove it.
Running back—Brown is a bit nicked up but should play. Ricky Williams is going to get a heavy dose against the Pats defense this week. The Pats’ BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a breakout game last week with 98 yards and a touchdown. Yes that is just one person.
Receiver/ Tight End—Brandon Marshall might be the best wideout on the field Monday night, but the combination of Welker and Moss wins out. Another huge key to this game will be Miami’s containment of tight end Aaron Hernandez, who leads the Patriots in receiving with 211 yards. Tight ends have been the Dolphins’ kryptonite. The Jets’ Dustin Keller torched them for 98 yards and two touchdowns last week.
Offensive Line—The Patriots have given up an NFL leading six hits on the quarterback all season, compared to the Dolphins 16. Part of the reason is Brady’s ultra-quick release.
Defensive Line—Vince Wilfork leads a solid Pats defensive line. Randy Starks leads a mean yet inconsistent Dolphins line. This one is a toss up.
Linebackers—The Patriots Jerod Mayo is a stud but outside of him there isn’t much depth. The Dolphins Karlos Dansby has been terrific thus far. Cam Wake has shown the ability to consistently pressure the quarterback, but must improve in other areas like stopping the run. Who is going to match up with Hernandez?
Secondary—Both secondaries have shown weaknesses over the course of the season. Miami’s secondary dominated two of the three games, but struggled with the Jets last week. Jason Allen is likely going to be matched up with Randy Moss, while Vontae Davis should be on Wes Welker. Containing those two will be huge, especially Moss. The Patriots have a playmaker in former Hurricane Brandon Meriweather at safety.
Special Teams—The Pats’ Brandon Tate is the number one kick returner in the NFL (29 YDS per return) and has already taken one back to the house. Miami cannot give up a big plays on special teams, giving Brady a short a field.
Prediction: This one could be a shoot out. Brady has had struggles in Miami over the last couple of seasons and if the Dolphins are going to win this one they must force a few errant throws. When the Dolphins establish the run early they are tough to stop and I think they get the running game cranking this week.