The Miami Dolphins conclude their two-week, coast-to-coast road trip with a visit to the New England Patriots. Miami looks to bounce back after a tough loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Despite playing poorly and missing several opportunities, the Dolphins were just one fourth-down stand away from leaving victorious.
The New England Patriots come back home after a thrilling victory against the Arizona Cardinals. In spite of not having Rob Gronkowski or Tom Brady, the team’s two biggest weapons, they were able to lead a late charge and escape with a win. In Week 2, they look to take a commanding lead in the AFC East with a victory over the Dolphins and open up a two-game lead.
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Now the question is if the Dolphins can capitalize on their strong showing, even in a loss. Moreover, can Jimmy Garoppolo and the Patriots play at the same level despite their inexperience.
Miami Dolphins Keys to Victory
1) Capitalize on opportunities: One of the main reasons that Dolphins came out of Seattle with a loss last Sunday was an inability to capitalize on opportunities. The team missed a relatively easy field goal that should have been three points. Wide receiver Kenny Stills dropped a sure touchdown, costing the team another six points. The defense couldn’t get off the field on two fourth downs in the final drive, ultimately resulting in the go-ahead score. If they have any hope of beating New England, they have to find a way to correct those mistakes.
2) Put pressure on Garoppolo: While the offense sputtered for the majority of the game, the Dolphins defense did everything it could to keep them in the game. The front four put on a show against the Seattle offensive line, bringing a heap of pressure on Russell Wilson. The Dolphins will need a repeat performance if they have any hope of beating the Patriots. Jimmy Garoppolo is a young quarterback, making only his second start in the league. If the Dolphins frustrate him early, it could be a long day for Patriots fans. And a great one for Miami fans.
3) DeVante Parker: The talented, but oft-injured, DeVante Parker has started just four games for the Dolphins since being selected in the first round of the 2015 draft. In the games he has played, he has shown flashes of brilliance. Anyone watching the Dolphins game last week could see the offense needs a spark. Parker, if healthy, can be that spark. If Parker can recover from his nagging hamstring injury, look for him to be fed the ball early and often.
New England Keys to Victory
1) Protect the quarterback: Say what you will about Miami’s performance last week, it was clear they have a great pass rush. Russell Wilson was scrambling all over the place. When he was hurt, the defense smelled blood in the water. Garoppolo is a young quarterback, letting him get pounded by that front could be devastating for his confidence. Keep him clean and it’s going to be a long day for the Dolphins.
2) Establish the run: Your quarterback has far fewer chances to be on his back if you have a good running game. If the Patriots want to keep Garoppolo clean, the best way to do so is leaning on LeGarrette Blount. The offensive line is suspect, Blount’s running ability is not. Miami held up pretty well last week against the run, make them show they can do it again.
3) Play a clean game: Miami, by all rights, probably should have lost last weekend by more than they did. Seattle made a lot of mistakes that allowed the Dolphins to hang around. Seattle couldn’t slam the door when they had the chance, and needed a late TD to seal it. If New England keeps that door open, in a traditionally hard-fought division match-up, anything can happen.