And so begins the winding down of the season, which includes 5 divisional matchups for the Patriots. The first is the Dolphins. They have not met yet this season, but the Dolphins have been on a downward spiral for the past few weeks. They’ve dropped four straight losses, a few that were complete blowouts. This is not the kind of trend any team would want to be in before coming into Foxboro.
They have been an offensive trainwreck. Jay Cutler threw 3 interceptions and sustained a concussion all in one quarter last week. They have had almost no running game, splitting between Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams the past few weeks, and even when Jay Ajayi was still on the team he could hardly muster up 100 yards. Their one bright spot has been at the receiver position. Jarvis Landry has had a somewhat stellar season, as well as DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills having big games here and there. This is surprising seeing how poor their QB play has been between Jay Cutler and Matt Moore all season, but it is easily their most talented position. With a subpar offensive line, the Pats might finally be able to break out some pass rush, and maybe give the likes of Deatrich Wise and Trey Flowers a little bit of confidence in the waning weeks of the regular season. A fiery Malcolm Butler could easily get into some scraps this week with Jarvis Landry, and that could turn into a very interesting matchup. The Patriots do need to be aware of Julius Thomas, who used to kill them in Denver, and has begun resurrecting his career in Miami this season. They also have not matched up well against tight ends, so he might become a problem at times for them. Overall, with how well they have improved over the past few weeks, Cutler or Moore should not have any issues with making mistakes against these guys.
There is a lot of potential for the offense to light up this Dolphins defense. They’re most dangerous defensive player is also their oldest in Cameron Wake, and Ndamukong Suh has not been a huge factor since he left Detroit. It is still imperative to keep a dirty player like him as far away from Brady as possible. Kiko Alonzo can cause some trouble too, and his freakishly athletic ability matches him up better than most teams against the Patriots running backs. They might struggle a little more against him, but he can’t cover all of them, so multiple back sets should prove to be a killer against this team. Gronk may be the most important piece to the offense this week, with the receiving corp being limited to Amendola, Cooks, and Dorsett again. There is still no definite return time for Hogan or Mitchell, but hopefully they will be back in action within the next few weeks to get their feet wet. Bennett and Allen will also play a big role, and this should be a tight end extravaganza against a team to give up six TDs to tight ends this season.
These divisional games haven’t been fun since Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas retired, and I miss the battles against Ricky Williams. I know Tannehill isn’t great either, but man he isn’t Jay Cutler. 36-17 Patriots.
Written By: Jake Kobierski (@TheRealKobe83)