Sunday, December 15, 2013

Week 15 picks: Patriots at Dolphins

Publisher Nick St. Denis, associate editor Dan Begnoche and senior contributor Sean Donovan pick the New England Patriots' key division battle with the Miami Dolphins.

Sean's take:
The Dolphins are a popular upset pick this week, after New England's repeated shaky first half performances and loss of star tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Dolphins also haven't had a negative turnover margin nor has Ryan Tannehill had a below 80 passer rating since Week 8 -- the first meeting with the Patriots. As always, New England will come prepared and in this game, most matchups favor the visitors. The Patriots lock up their fifth straight division title.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Dolphins 20

Nick's take:
Patriots running back Shane Vereen and Dolphins tight end Charles Clay -- the two most versatile players on their respective teams -- will be the difference-makers in this one. Working with a banged-up receiving corps against a banged-up secondary, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will move Vereen all over the field and look to him often. New England struggles to contain Clay, who is Tannehill's go-to target through the air and has become a reliable blocker. The Dolphins earn the upset and better their playoff hopes.
Prediction: Dolphins 27, Patriots 26

Dan's take:
Gronkowski didn't make much of a splash in the teams' first outing, and Miami is safe from a rebuttal. A struggling Patriots pass rush gives the sophomore Tannehill a shot at going score for score with Brady, though New England keeps Miami's offense at bay by shutting down Clay and No. 1 wideout Mike Wallace. Brady continues his solid history against the Fins, while Julian Edelman continues to show he can be a reliable go-to option.
Prediction: Patriots 26, Dolphins 17