Dolphins vs Patriots 2013 Week 8: Predicting the Matchups

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins visit the New England Patriots in the first half of the annual home-and-home series between the two fanchises. Who has the upper hand in today's game? We take a look at the matchups this morning.

Both the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots come off losses last week to face each other today.  Which team wins the different matchups this week?  We take a look this morning.

Matchup Advantage Remarks
Dolphins passing offense vs. New England pass defense Mia_tiny_medium

Dolphins pass offense: 16
Patriots pass defense: 11

The Dolphins can throw the ball as long as Ryan Tannehill is upright.  The team is starting the newly acquired Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, kicking Jonathan Martin back to right tackle, and benching Tyson Clabo.  That's going to be the key to the Miami passing attack this week.  Aqib Talib is out with a hip injury today.  The Dolphins get this one, if McKinnie can slow the sack rate on Tannehill.

Dolphins rushing offense vs. Buffalo run defense Mia_tiny_medium

Dolphins rush offense: 25
Patriots rush defense: 31

Last week, the Dolphins running game took its first steps off of life support.  It was not quite enough, yet, but it was there.  Today, they face the 31st ranked rush defense in the league, thanks in large part to the absence of Vince Wilfork in the middle of the line of scrimmage.  Miami can run on the Patriots - now will they?

Patriots passing offense vs. Miami pass defense EVEN

Patriots pass offense: 20
Dolphins pass defense: 25

This is going to seem crazy, but I really think it is true.  This is a push at this point.  The only thing that keeps it from being a Dolphins win is the man under center for New England.  Tom Brady can will the Patriots into games, and he is, of course, dangerous.  However, as we showed earlier this week, Brady may not be the Brady of old anymore. Even if it is not Brady's age, he clearly does not have chemistry with his receivers.  If the Dolphins can contain Rob Gronkowski, they really can come out ahead in this matchup.

Patriots rushing offense vs. Miami run defense Ne_tiny_medium

Patriots rush offense: 13
Dolphins rush defense: 15

The Dolphins have a good run defense when Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, and Jared Odrick are healthy and able to clog up the middle, freeing up linebacker Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe to make plays.  But, Soliai has been slowed a little this year due to injury, and the defense has struggled because of that.  Ellerbe has been sidelined with a shoulder injury as of late, which puts the stress all on Wheeler to make up for that absence. The Patriots have run the ball well this year, and will likely continue to throw Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount at the Dolphins, and have an edge, especially if Ellerbe can't play at 100%.

Dolphins special teams vs. New England special teams Ne_tiny_medium

Punter Brandon Fields should still give this to Miami, but Julian Edelman is the 8th best returner in the league, and can neutralize Fields' advantage.  Miami's had some bad moments on special teams lately, including kicker Caleb Strugis missing his last two field goals and Don Jones making a rookie mistake in being the first person to down a punt, which, essentially, turned into a 40-yard swing of field position and allowed the Buffalo Bills to score their only offensive touchdown last week.  The Patriots get the edge until the special teams for Miami can prove it is back to early season form.

Prediction:

Some people may call this a homer pick, but I really like the way the Dolphins matchup with the Patriots, and that's why I am looking to the visitors to play well and get off their three game losing streak. Final: Dolphins 24-21.

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