It’s almost impossible to understate the importance of the Patriots’ next game, as they host the scorching hot Miami Dolphins (3-0) in Week 4. Coming off of last week’s absolute dud against the Lions, the Pats cannot afford to fall to 1-3 and 3 games off the division lead.
Here are some things to consider entering today’s game.
1. Matching up against Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ offense
The Pats’ defense’s struggles over the last two weeks has been heavily documented, as they could not defend against the run or the pass against the Jaguars and Lions, respectively. This week’s matchup against the Dolphins could either get New England’s defense back on track or set them back even further, as they face off against a revitalized Ryan Tannehill, Kenyan Drake, and the rest of Miami’s explosive offense. One of my major takeaways from last week’s game in Detroit, was that the Patriots’ secondary looked very disoriented, which enabled Matthew Stafford to easily dissect them and find his receivers. Bill Belichick and Brian Flores will need to find a way to limit the effectiveness of ex-Patriot Danny Amendola, and Kenny Stills (who has the potential to carve the Patriots down the field), as it will put extra pressure on Tannehill.
Thankfully for the Patriots, injured players Trey Flowers (concussion) and Patrick Chung (concussion) practiced earlier this week and are questionable to play today. The presence of both players would be able to reenergize the stale pass rush and secondary of the Pats. On the other hand, it was saddening to see the Pats put linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley on injured reserve, as he had been remarkable over the past few weeks.
2. Can the the Brady Bunch find its rhythm?
It’s pretty easy to blame the Patriots’ 1-2 record on the defense, but Tom Brady & Co. haven’t really kept up their end of the bargain either, as they have constantly struggled to move the ball down the field. As mentioned in last week’s recap, it’s become increasingly easy to defend the Patriots’ offense, as doubling Rob Gronkowski enables opposing defenses to have great success, with the other Patriot wide receivers being unable to get open. It will be vital for the Patriots to get James White involved early, as he can be a key asset for both the running and passing games. Tom Brady will also need to rebound from his putrid performance from a week ago, as him being successful is vital for the Pats to win.
For those who are wondering when Josh Gordon will make his debut as a Patriot, he is questionable to play today.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Dolphins 19
Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 4 contests (excluding Thursday Night Football).
Last Week: 6-9
Jets at Jaguars: Jaguars
Eagles at Titans: Eagles
Texans at Colts: Colts
Bills at Packers: Packers
Lions at Cowboys: Cowboys
Buccaneers at Bears: Bears
Bengals at Falcons: Falcons
Seahawks at Cardinals: Cardinals
Browns at Raiders: Browns
Saints at Giants: Saints
49ers at Chargers: Chargers
Ravens at Steelers: Ravens
Chiefs at Broncos: Chiefs