On the heels of their 24-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings, quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will take their act to Miami for a divisional head-to-head with the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots, of course, dismantled the Dolphins in their Sept. 30 meeting, beating Adam Gase's squad by a 38-7 final.
"Looking at the Dolphins, this is a lot different team than we saw earlier in the year, eight weeks ago," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick offered. "They've changed some personnel things. They’ve done a really good job of winning close games, playing good football situationally and that's how they’ve won a lot of close games. They're, obviously, very well-coached.
"They have a lot of explosive players on offense with [Kenny] Stills, [Kenyan] Drake, [Frank] Gore, [DeVante] Parker. [Ryan] Tannehill’s back, and then defensively this is a disruptive front. [Xavien] Howard’s having a great year. They turn the ball over a lot, one of the best teams in the league on that. Good all-around team that gave us a lot of problems down there last year with their scheme, their players and the way they played. I’m sure we'll get the same thing this time."
History may be in the Dolphins' favor here, too, as they've defeated the Patriots in four of the last five meetings in Miami.
But the Patriots will roll into town with wins in eight of their last nine games overall.
Here's the 98.5 The Sports Hub staff picks and predictions for this weekend's showdown...
Ty Anderson (Writer/columnist, 985TheSportsHub.com)
Oh no, a road game in Miami! Listen, I understand this is a typically tough spot for the Patriots, but my goodness are the Dolphins a disappointment and a half. The Pats defense continues to do that thing where it works into playoff form late in the season, and New England's offense has shown an ability to get fast starts and then turn it back on in the second half.
In other words, don't believe the Miami hype. Patriots roll.
Patriots 32, Dolphins 17.
Matt Dolloff (Writer/producer, 985TheSportsHub.com)
Guys, I'm worried this game is going to suck. Not necessarily because the Patriots are going to lose. Just feels to me like this is primed for both teams to struggle to move the ball. Patriots offense still has some issues to clean up, especially when they play on the road. The Pats defense, on the other hand, is peaking at the perfect time. If they can confuse the hell out of Kirk Cousins they should be able to give Ryan Tannehill trouble. It'll be a low-scoring game, though, and way too close than anyone wants it to be. But Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will do just enough right things in the fourth quarter to pull it out. A "let's get this over-with, get the W and get the hell out of here" kind of afternoon for the Patriots.
Patriots 22, Dolphins 19.
Adam Jones (The Adam Jones Show)
Yes, the Patriots have been historically bad in Miami. Their loss there in 2004 with one of the most dominant Patriots teams I've ever seen particularly stands out. But with so much at stake at the top of the AFC, I just can't see New England dropping this game. I do think the Dolphins keep it close though.
Patriots 28, Dolphins 24.
Tony Massarotti (Felger and Mazz)
I don’t fully believe in the Patriots yet, but I’m starting to believe in their defense. And defense travels. Usually.
Patriots 23, Dolphins 17.
Mike 'Sarge' Riley (98.5 The Sports Hub)
Remember the last time those two teams met? The sky was falling for the Pats in a must-win game at Gillette Stadium. Now, it’s a must-win for Miami (6-6) at home, where they've had a ton of past success against the Patriots. Big problem for the Dolphins is their run defense which comes into play ranked 30th in the league. I like the Patriots' tandem of Sony Michel and James White to combine for a solid game on the ground as Tom Brady continues to build his confidence in Josh Gordon.
‘Fins will give the Pats a scare in the first quarter, sure, but the AFC East will be clinched in Miami.
Patriots 27, Dolphins 22.
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