2016 Games Schedule:
Week 2 September 19 @ Gillett Stadium
Week 17 January 1 @ Hard Rock Stadium (Please pick this one, Mr. Ross.)
The one outstanding feat of the last three years with this Dolphins club has been the ability to beat the Patriots at home. The 2013 win was supposed to be the one that ended the playoff drought – but we all know how that season ended. The 2014 victory gave us our one and only look at Knowshon Moreno and last year’s triumph is one that all ‘Phins fans like to take credit for keeping the Pats out of the Super Bowl (a win in week 17 would’ve meant the AFC title game was played in Foxboro opposed to Denver.)
While those home wins have been bright spots, the annual thrashing in front of those assholes from Boston has been painful. I compare it to watching Robert Kraft swoop in, in the 11th hour and stealing that girl from the bar you had poured three hours of pointless conversation and half a bottle of Captain Morgan into.
Creepy old rich man stealing your one night stand jokes aside, the Dolphins are going to have to start winning when traveling to play the Patriots. This year presents a golden opportunity as the quarterback depth of the Patriots has been deflated (I’ll be here all week) and Jimmy Garoppolo will see his first meaningful NFL action.
The Patriots employ a short, rhythm based passing game that is predicated on keeping the quarterback upright and the down and distance manageable. Tom Brady is a master at identifying blitzes and coverages and making sure his protection assignments are on point and his short to intermediate accuracy is sensational.
The New England offense is going to struggle under Garoppolo. A level of comfort and familiarity is what makes the Pats passing game so dangerous and without the knowledge and recognition skills of the future hall of famer, the offense will be slowed.
The backfield is, as it always is, a committee based stable that focuses on attacking the defense’s weaknesses. One week, Dion Lewis will get 30 touches and 200 yards from scrimmage and the following week it’ll be LeGarrette Blount trudging forward with 25 carries.
The passing game gets a massive boost at tight end as the team now carries two tights whose lethal abilities end at killing NFL defenses, not strip club patrons in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski will be an impossible match-up for any defense, especially a Miami unit that struggles in this department. The addition of Chris Hogan will be a glove-like fit when Brady returns, but I don’t expect much of an impact from 7-Eleven in the week two match up against the ‘Phins.
Miami should have similar fortunes attacking the Patriots quarterback that is relying upon an offensive line that is held together by crutches and duct tape. Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams have all had success going against the guys that will be expected to block them.
Defensively, the Patriots have quietly built a fast, athletic bunch that has stellar back seven play. Devin McCourty and Malcolm Butler are two of the best at their safety and corner positions, respectively, while the linebackers are simply outstanding. Dont’a Hightower and Jaime Collins are linebackers that play 80-90 percent of the snaps, defend the run, cover, and rush the quarterback. Collins is nearing all-pro level ability and Hightower isn’t far behind.
The pass rush took a massive blow when Chandler Jones was dealt to Arizona but Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich still generate decent pressure – at least enough so that the defensive backs quality coverage allows the ends to get to the quarterback.
The Dolphins should be able to attack the Patriots with the depth at receiver and the Pats lack of depth in the secondary. Running between the tackles will be a key as some serious meat in the middle of the defense is gone as Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga, Dominque Easley and Jerod Mayo have all left town.
Miami should focus on running a lot of four wide sets to take one of the two elite New England linebackers off the field and focus on being able to run out of this formation.
I’m legitimately worried about the narrative aspect of the week two game. The NFL has shown its tendency to favor the Patriots over this run and after a week one smack down in Arizona, the league may need to combat the story that Garoppolo is no good and the Patriots reign is finished once Brady hangs them up.
So, naturally, as the fearful ‘Phins fan that I am, I fully expect some fishy happenings to occur when Miami travels to Foxboro to face an 0-1 New England team up against adversity.
For that reason, I have Miami being swept by the Patriots this year. New England will need the week 17 game to secure home field advantage and I’m not banking on them losing an identical game two years in a row.
The Patsy scum look as scary on offense, once Brady is back, as they have since 2007. That, unfortunately, is why they remain the class of the AFC.
12-4 for the Patriots with another enjoyable loss in the Super Bowl.
Contact Travis Wingfield: