After a disappointing loss to the Bills last week, the Phins look to rebound and keep their playoff hopes alive in a revenge game against the Pats.
New England Patriots (7-4) @ Miami Dolphins (5-6)
The door is closing on Miami. A home loss to New England would all but seal their fate in this up and down season for the Phins. But a win against their arch enemies this Sunday would not only keep their playoff hopes alive, it would also entertain the possibility of winning another division title. So you’re saying there’s a chance!
After the Saints handled the Patriots last Monday night, it left an open opportunity for Miami to make a possible run for the AFC East title. If the Dolphins had been able to hold on to beat the Bills last week, this would have been Miami’s chance to take back the division that they owned last season. Now they face a must win situation just to stay afloat in the race for the playoffs.
In the first matchup between these two teams, New England slowly took over the game with the help of Brady and Moss. Miami attempted to test out some new Wildcat tricks utilizing rookie Pat White, but it wasn’t enough to outplay the Pats. New England played well defensively in that game, but Miami was able to run for over 130 yards in the contest. This time around with no Ronnie Brown, the focus will be on Ricky Williams to keep the ground attack flowing.
Chad Henne will need to have a better game this time around as well. The Patriots were absolutely torched by Drew Brees on Monday Night Football, leaving the Pats secondary in shambles. Henne has been studying those tapes to see if he can duplicate that success in the air. Though Henne won’t be expected to throw five touchdowns, he will have to move the chains consistently and help put some points up on the board this Sunday. Henne must put that devastating fourth quarter against the Bills behind him and confidently lead this team to victory.
Miami was only able to sack Brady twice in the first loss, so applying more pressure will be key. The Phins can not afford to allow Brady to sit in the pocket and throw to Moss and Welker all game long. As the Saints proved last week, the key to shutting down the Pats is to eliminate the production of Randy and Wes. That is obviously easier said than done though. Laurence Maroney did have a good game against the Phins the first go around, but he will not single handedly beat you. But Randy Moss can (and did in the first battle). If Miami focuses on taking Randy out of the game as much as they can, it will drastically increase the Dolphins' chances to win.
Whether Miami still has some new tricks up their sleeve for New England is yet to be seen, for it always seems like they do when they face off against the Pats, but executing turnover free football will be the best trick they can pull off this Sunday. Miami has proved that they can hang with anybody in the league, including the Saints team that New England couldn’t seem to hang with last week. Hopefully, Miami can use that as an extra confidence boost to beat this Patriots team they so desperately need to defeat. A win would keep them right in the hunt. A loss would all but end their season. Every week has seemed like a must win for the Phins, but it doesn’t get any more must-win than this divisional matchup.
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Written by Josh Souder