After winning a come from behind win against the Seattle Seahawks, the Miami Dolphins enter this weekend with a lot of momentum. Unfortunately, so does their opponent. The New England Patriots lead the AFC East (8-3) and have won 5 straight games.
Here are some things I'm looking for:
Can the defense at least slow down the Patriots offense?
I could have said: "Can we stop the Patriots offense?" But...that's asking a little too much. The Dolphins defense has been dominant at points in games and then we just decide to slack off. In their last two games, the Patriots have scored 108 total points. WOW!!! The Patriots also lead the league in offense, averaging 435.8 yards per game.
We cannot afford to slack off at any point in this game. Unfortunately, I think if we play our best football, that still won't be enough to slow down this Patriots offense.
Led by MVP Candidate, Tom Brady, who has 3299 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, the Patriots offense is as dominant as ever. Brady can make anyone look good, there is no doubt about that.
If Sean Smith isn't on his game, then we're done. At points he seems to be the lock-down corner we need, then he gives up easy touchdowns. Nolan Carroll will need to be on his best game. Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd are the Patriots top two receivers. However, it's their tight ends that seem to be Brady's favorite targets. Rob Gronkowski is having another Pro Bowl year, he will be out for this game though, that's good news. Aaron Hernandez will be active and is fast for a tight end. The linebackers will be asked to do a lot against these two on Sunday.
It doesn't end there, the Patriots running backs are also good. Led by Steven Ridley who has 206 attempts, 939 yards, and 8 touchdowns. The Patriots like to create mismatches with Danny Woodhead who can come out of the backfield and make a key catch.
Can the offense keep up with the Patriots?
So if the defense feels like sleeping during the game, the offense will have to pick up the slack. Ryan Tannehill has been making great progress and he had a great game last week. His two interceptions were questionable on his part though. Tannehill will need to play like he did against the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals. He was accurate and showed great chemistry with his receivers.
At running back, we have a lethal back in Reggie Bush who showed some good awareness against the Seattle Seahawks last week. Providing the power and big back role, is Daniel Thomas. Thomas has been used as the goal line back and short yardage back. He's also been in for a few pass plays and for pass protection. Lamar Miller hasn't seen the field much, but I think we should get him involved because I don't see us bringing back Reggie. Speaking of Reggie, we will need his explosiveness to help open up the passing game.
Brian Hartline and Davone Bess have chemistry with Ryan Tannehill. Both could have a big game and we will need them to to keep up with the Patriots. Rishard Matthews and Marlon Moore play behind them. Matthews has been seeing more and more playing time and the coaches really seem to like his upside. Moore is a special teams player and can take the tops of defenses, which will be needed.
Anthony Fasano is consistent, he won't wow you with his stats. He's had exactly 1 catch in each of his last 4 games. 1 CATCH! We need an athletic tight end...bad. But maybe Charles Clay can provide that. He had 6 receptions for 233 yards, and a touchdown. Clay has really been a big part of this offense lately and it's showing.
To win this game, the offense will have to be in sync and not go three and out a lot. The Patriots like to force turnovers and we have a rookie at quarterback.
Can we get a turnover, please?
We haven't forced a turnover in four game. UNACCEPTABLE! The Patriots can be beaten, it's going to take a team effort and it starts with forcing turnovers.
Who needs to step up?
I'm going with a defensive lineman. Jared Odrick. He had a huge play, by sacking Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to stall their drive and force them out of field goal range.
However, Odrick hasn't been making those kinds of plays all year. He needs to be more consistent. Get the sack, pressure Brady and make him fold under the pressure. We're going to need a lot of good play from the defensive line this Sunday.
I think Odrick is better suited as a defensive tackle. Which is why I think we should look for an athletic defensive end in the draft. If we let Randy Starks walk, move Odrick inside and move Olivier Vernon to linebacker. Draft a stud defensive end in the first round. But, that's just my plan.
What are you watching for?
But most importantly, what are you guys watching for?
And, if you are looking for tickets, either to this week's game against Seattle, or any of the Dolphins remaining games, you can check out our Miami Dolphins Tickets page.