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Gametime: Patriots at Dolphins

After last weeks emphatic win (that saying is getting old) over the Cowboys the Patriots now face a trip to Dolphin Stadium in Miami – a place where the Patriots have routinely found it difficult to leave South Beach with a win.

The big news today is that running back Laurence Maroney will play for the first time in four weeks after missing games with a groin injury. His return comes at a perfect time as Sammy Morris could miss a month with a chest injury.

The Dolphins are 0-6 and have very few weapons. Standout wide receiver Chris Chambers was just traded to the San Diego Chargers for a second round draft pick and QB Trent Green was placed on injured reserve with a serious concussion. RB Ronnie Brown seems to be the only offensive weapon to worry about.

3 Keys to the Game:

  1. STOP RONNIE BROWN: Ronnie Brown is the only weapon on this team. No proven quarterback, no unstoppable receiver. The Patriots need to stack the box and Vince Wilfork especially must plug the middle to slow Brown down. After facing an extremely skilled Dallas receiving corps, the Pats secondary should be able to handle anything Cleo Lemon throws their way.
  2. BALANCE THE OFFENSE: Everyone knows the year Brady and his receivers are having. The Patriots could run every play of the game as a passing play and still probably put up 30 points. With Laurence Maroney returning, the Pats need to give him some carries. While many feel the Patriots are so dominant in the passing game that the running game doesn’t matter, there is a possibility that down the road New England plays a team that can neutralize Brady’s weapons. The Pats don’t need to run and pass evenly, but a healthy dose of Maroney and Kevin Faulk will prepare the Patriots for the second half of the season.
  3. OVERCOME THE MIAMI JINX: For one reason or another the Pats can never seem to control the Dolphins in Miami. We all remember three years ago when the Patriots were rolling to another Super Bowl and on Monday night football they blew a two score lead late as the Dolphins pulled the upset in their horrific orange uniforms. This Patriots team is as skilled as any team in history, so they should be able to get it done.

Prediction:
The Dolphins have never started a season 0-7, but this is the year. Whatever bad luck the Pats have had in the past in Miami, this team is simply too skilled and will overpower the lowly ‘Phins. The Pats plundered the Dolphins of two of their offensive weapons in Wes Welker and Sammy Morris, and with Miami trading their only respectable WR (sorry Tedy Ginn Jr.), the Pats just need to stop Ronnie Brown to stop the Dolphin offense. DE Jason Taylor is still an all-pro caliber player, but there just isn’t enough around him to threaten the Patriots perfect season.

Patriots 41, Dolphins 14

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