When the New England Patriots first played the Miami Dolphins in 2016, they were with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback as Tom Brady was still suspended. Now they meet with playoff stakes in Week 17 at Hard Rock Stadium, but it’s not the Patriots with a backup starting under center this time around.
Article continues below ...
Matt Moore has gone 2-0 as the starter for the Dolphins since the injury to Ryan Tannehill. They’ve been riding running back Jay Ajayi (as they should) throughout. Hopefully they can get that same rhythm going as the Dolphins could potentially lock up the No. 5 seed with a win over the Patriots. They’re lucky as Ajayi will be playing in this game after being listed as questionable.
Also listed as questionable this week was Tom Brady, but the New England legend will be going on Sunday. However, if there’s anything off about the quarterback, you can bet that Bill Belichick won’t hesitate to put in Jimmy Garoppolo—even with a No. 1 seed on the line.
Here are the keys to victory for each team:
Keys to Victory
The Patriots simply have to be disciplined and strong against the Dolphins rushing attack in this game. While Matt Moore has been solid, he isn’t now and will never be a player that strikes fear in opposing defenses. Subsequently, the New England defense needs to shore up one of their biggest weaknesses and play strong against the run. They have to win in the trenches and their linebackers must stay in their lanes and not get tore up by fakes or simply being out of position.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins’ key in this game is the same as the Patriots, except of course with stopping LeGarrette Blount. We all know what Brady can do to opposing defenses, but Blount is the death-blow by battering ram that the Patriots deploy to put teams away. He wears down defenses and helps New England control the clock. If Miami is going to pull off the upset, they have to limit what Blount does to the defense.
Point Spread: New England -8 Moneyline: New England -370, Miami +310 Over/Under: 47
The spread for this game is far too high at eight points. While I think the Patriots are clearly the better team, the Dolphins aren’t a slouch by any stretch. What’s more, I’m not sure the No. 1 seed is all that worth going all-out for if you’re the Patriots hers. In fact, I think that’s so much the case, that I’m going with the upset and picking Miami.
Pick: New England Patriots: 24, Miami Dolphins: 26