|Randy Moss caught two of Tom Brady’s six touchdown passes in Week 7 when the Pats led 42-7 at halftime in Miami. (Courtesy of NFL.com)
The Game: Miami Dolphins (1-13) at New England Patriots (14-0)
The Place: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
The Time: 4:15pm
The Channel: CBS
The Skinny: The Patriots are 14-0. The Dolphins are 1-13. There is no snow and little wind in the forecast. It shouldn’t be close. With an improbable win over the Ravens last week, the Dolphins are guaranteed not to be the first 0-16 team in NFL history and thus have little reason to play 110% against the Pats. There is rain in the forecast but it may not start until after halftime, leaving the Pats plenty of time to wrack up points – and perhaps some records.
3 Keys to the Game:
- POUND THEM EARLY, POUND THEM OFTEN: The Pats should take the opening kickoff, drive down the field and score any way possible to take any thoughts of an upset out the minds of the ‘Phins. In the last few weeks the Patriots have struggled to establish offensive rhythm early in the game and thus put more pressure on the defense. While Miami doesn’t pose the same offensive threat as some of the other teams they’ve played, scoring an early TD will let defensive coordinator Dean Peas and his defense opened up the blitzing options early on.
- ESTABLISH THE RUN BUT KEEP AN EYE ON RECORDS: Many experts feel that because the Dolphins are such a weaker opponent and the playoffs are looming that the Patriots should establish the run and pound the ball as they did against the Jets. There is a strong possibility of rain in the forecast but the wind shouldn’t be as much of a factor as last week. The Patriots are close to many personal and team wide offensive records, most notably Tom Brady (five TD passes away from Peyton Manning’s single season record), Randy Moss (four TD catches away from Jerry Rice’s single season record) and the entire offense which with five touchdowns would set a new NFL record for most points in a season, overtaking the 1999 Randy Moss toting Minnesota Vikings. If the Pats are up big and the weather turns bad, Laurence Maroney should get a bulk of carries, but deep down Bill Belichick and the players want the perfect regular season and the records, so look for them to air it out all over the field.
- TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS AND STAY HEALTHY: This game shouldn’t be close and if the weather holds it won’t be. The Pats should be able to march up and down the field if they establish offensive rhythm early on. Brady led the offense to a 42-7 lead at the half when the teams played in Miami earlier this year, and despite the Dolphins win last week, the Patriots should be playing the most inferior opponents of the season. As much as Belichick has shown a propensity for running it up, with the playoffs looming don’t be surprised to see Matt Cassell and most of the second team offense in the fourth quarter if the game is in hand.
With Miami off their winless schnide, they have nothing to play for but pride. As the Pats have shown this season, pride won’t get you anywhere against this Patriots offense which will go down as on the top units in NFL history. Without more wind than forecasters anticipate, my buddies and me should be focused more on getting back in the beer line than watching the scoreboard tomorrow at “The Razor.”
Patriots 45, Dolphins 20
Tags: Laurence Maroney, Miami Dolphins, Patriots, Randy Moss, Tom Brady