NFL Wire News

Week 15: Dolphins at Patriots

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Miami Dolphins (7-6) at New England Patriots (7-6)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Jenny Dell

*Keys to the game: It’s hard to put much stock in a meeting that took place 14 weeks ago, but the Dolphins are certainly trying to harken back to the success they had in beating the Patriots 33-20 at home to open the season.

Miami had great success with 191 rushing yards in the first meeting. That type of production isn’t realistic with Lamar Miller shouldering the brunt of the load minus Knowshon Moreno, but QB Ryan Tannehill is completing 66.7 percent of his passes and has an emerging trusted weapon in rookie WR Jarvis Landry. The Dolphins must be able to control the ball and cash in drives in a game in which everything must fall in their direction.

The Patriots’ offense is a different beast than the one the Dolphins shut out in the second half in Week 1. TE Rob Gronkowski is healthy and causing matchup nightmares, the offensive line has gelled and QB Tom Brady has a comfort zone with his receiving corps. But expect to see plenty from the Patriots’ stable of running backs early on. The Dolphins have excellent edge rushers, but have been gashed for 661 rushing yards over the past three games due to a combination of poor gap integrity and very poor tackling.

*Matchup to watch – Dolphins FS Jimmy Wilson vs. Brady: With Louis Delmas going on IR, Wilson is the likely candidate to move into his starting spot. The domino effect would then mean a new face at nickel corner. Another option is stating rookie Walt Aikens in Delmas’ spot. With CBs Cortland Finnegan (ankle) and Jamar Taylor (shoulder) also racing to return from injury, Brady could be licking his chops against a severely undermanned secondary.

*Player spotlight – Dolphins RT Jason Fox: Fox could get the start after Dallas Thomas was credited for being beaten for 3.5 sacks last week.

*Fast facts: Tannehill has thrown for 490 yards with five touchdowns and a 101.7 passer rating in winning his past two starts against New England. … The Patriots clinch the AFC East title with a victory.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Patriots return from two weeks on the road to face a very inconsistent but dangerous Dolphins team that has won the past two meetings. Miami will again prove a tough out, but Brady will smell blood in the water against the Dolphins’ short-handed secondary and dominate in the quick-strike passing game.

*Our pick: Patriots 30-26


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