Even though the Patriots were dominant during their Week 1 rout of Pittsburgh, they should be extremely cautious entering tomorrow’s divisional matchup against the lowly Miami Dolphins (0-1), due to their historic struggles in Hard Rock Stadium. The Patriots have lost 5 of their last 6 games in Miami, with their last win coming in 2016.
Here are some things to consider entering tomorrow’s game.
1. Who will win the matchup between Josh McDaniels and Brian Flores?
The Dolphins defense was dreadful against Baltimore in Week 1, as they surrendered 59 points to the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens. Most surprisingly, Jackson threw for over 300 yards and 5 touchdowns, and was able to silence his critics who felt that he would never succeed as a passer in the NFL. Due to Baltimore’s performance, most pundits expect the Patriots to light up the scoreboard in Miami, which is a claim I am skeptical of. Don’t get me wrong, adding Antonio Brown to the offense that scored 33 points against the Steelers should make Patriots fans excited about playing a dreadful Dolphins defense, but there is one key factor that cannot be ignored. Miami’s new head coach is Brian Flores, who was a member of the Pats’ staff from 2004 to 2018, including one season as the team’s primary defensive play-caller. Flores was the architect (along with Bill Belichick) of the game plan that limited the Rams to 3 points in Super Bowl LIII, and clearly has a great understanding of the way Josh McDaniels, Tom Brady, and the offense operate. Belichick and the Patriots have always struggled against his ex-pupils, which makes this matchup even more intriguing.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Brady and the offense have a great performance, but the presence of Brian Flores on the other sideline may make this matchup tighter than people expect it to be.
2. Can the Pats’ defense shut down Miami’s offense?
It wasn’t pretty the last time the Patriots’ defense took the field in Miami, as they gave up a 69-yard multi-lateral touchdown to Miami on the last play of the game now known as the ”Miracle in Miami”. The defense has clearly improved since that fateful day in December, becoming more stout against both the run and the pass. On the other hand, Miami’s offense had a terrible outing in Week 1, as they only mustered 10 points against the dominant Ravens defense. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen struggled at quarterback, with the Dolphins rushing attack also being rendered non-existent. Once again, the Patriots’ effective performance against Pittsburgh doesn’t necessarily guarantee an easy win against Miami, due to the fact that their former wide receiver’s coach, Chad O’Shea, is now the Dolphins’ offense coordinator. O’Shea’s familiarity with the Patriots’ system may enable him to find some chinks in their armor, which is something Belichick and Jerod Mayo will need to be cognizant about.
At the same time, I feel like the Patriots’ defense will have the ability to dominate this game if they continue to smother the opposing offense’s weapons, while applying effective pressure on the quarterback.
- Marcus Cannon (shoulder) – Questionable
- Matt LaCosse (ankle) – Questionable
- Brandon Bolden (hamstring) – Out
- Charles Harris (wrist) – Questionable
- Trent Harris (foot) – Questionable
- Bobby McCain (shoulder) – Questionable
- Daniel Kilgore (shoulder) – Questionable
- Reshad Jones (ankle) – Out
- Albert Wilson (hip/calf) – Out
- Walt Aikens (shoulder) – Not listed
Prediction: Patriots 27, Dolphins 14
Here are my picks for the NFL’s other Week 2 games (excluding Thursday Night Football)
Cardinals at Ravens: Ravens
Chargers at Lions: Chargers
Colts at Titans: Titans
49ers at Bengals: Bengals
Jaguars at Texans: Texans
Vikings at Packers: Vikings
Cowboys at Redskins: Cowboys
Seahawks at Steelers: Steelers
Bills at Giants: Bills
Chiefs at Raiders: Chiefs
Saints at Rams: Rams
Bears at Broncos: Bears
Eagles at Falcons: Eagles
Browns at Jets: Browns