Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gameday Deciding Factors: Dolphins at Patriots


Though the Miami Dolphins (7-8) are no longer in playoff contention, they're highly motivated to knock off the division champs and finish the season at .500. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots (11-4) hope to snap out of a cold streak and enter the postseason with some sort of rhythm. (photo: jdn, Flickr)

The only thing at stake for the Patriots in this game is playoff seeding. If they beat Miami, they will clinch a first round-bye with a loss by either the Houston Texans or Denver Broncos. This game is a rematch from Week 13, which was won by the Patriots 23-16 in Miami.


Pressure Tom Brady. After lukewarm performances in two consecutive games against the San Fransisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady and the New England offense look to re-assert themselves before the games really start to count. If the Dolphins can consistently prevent Brady from setting his feet, they have a good chance to keep the score within striking distance.

Wear 'em out. In the last matchup, New England sealed the victory by pounding the ball on the ground late and wearing out the Dolphins' defense. That should be a big part of their gameplan this time around, and it'll help mitigate Miami's pass rush, as well.

TDs, not FGs. The Dolphins shouldn't have trouble moving the ball on this Patriots defensive unit between the twenties. The key, however, will be to finish drives with seven points and not settle for field goals. New England's defense does a fantastic job of clamping down close to its own goal line, and field goals will not help Miami win. Look for Reggie Bush to once again be a big part of the Dolphins' strategy in the red zone. (photo: Bob Brown, Flickr)

Ball security. It seems odd to have concern about the league leaders in turnover differential taking care of the ball, but it has become an issue in recent weeks for New England. The Patriots are a much more talented team than the Dolphins, but a couple of ill-timed turnovers and the chances of an upset increase dramatically.
A week in Dolphins and Patriots posts at