Last week was supposed to be a possible Super Bowl preview… let’s hope that isn’t the case. Simply put, New Orleans rolled all over New England. Now, The Patriots will look to take out all their frustrations out on their in division rivals, the Miami Dolphins. In a matchup of the last two AFC East champions, the Patriots will try to knock the ‘fins out of the playoff picture and take a firm grasp of the division in the process.
REMEMBER THE DOLPHINS
For the most part, this will be the same team New England saw just five weeks ago, with one major change. Miami’s star running back Ronnie Brown is now done for the season, but in his absence Ricky Williams has put together three straight 100 yard games. Chad Henne has does his best to keep the Dolphins afloat, but a three interception game last week is less then promising. The receiving corp looks dismal and their ace Ted Ginn Jr., is dropping more then he’s pulling in. The defense is no where near where it was last year and now Tony Sporano’s Wildcat, appears to have used up its nine lives.
Five Things The Patriots Have To Do
- SHUT DOWN RICKY WILLIAMS:
When Ronnie Brown went down all hope appeared lost for the Wildcat offense. Then the Dolphins went with a nine year veteran who hadn’t rushed for 100 yards this season, there was not much confidence. However, Ricky Williams has taken the reigns of the team and appears to be their only hope of making a playoff push. Last time against the Patriots, Williams went for 33 yards on seven attempts. Since then, he has rattled off three 100 yard games and 20 or more carries a game.
Last week, New England defense was rattled in every way. 114 yards were split between Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell and the Patriots had no answer for the dual threat. This week, there is only one guy New England has to be focused on, Williams. Although Lousaka Polite and Lex Hilliard and getting more carries, the only other player New England has to watch out for in the running game is backup quarterback Pat White, and that’s only in the Wildcat. By stopping Williams from getting into the secondary, New England will put the game into Chad Henne’s hands.
- FREAK OUT HENNE:
Chad Pennington was the hero in South Beach last year. So when he went down in week three, all hope was put on the shoulders of another Chad. Chad Henne has had one job this year: do not cost the ‘fins the game. Since he has come in, the Dolphins have played .500 ball, running their way to 5-4 record since Henne took the helm. Everything seems to be going fine for him, until he completely collapsed last week at Buffalo. Two of Henne’s three picks resulted in touchdowns and a below average Bill defense was all over him, causing panic and problems.
This is where New England has to attack. After the loss to the Saints, critics tore apart New England lack of defense. What better way the to unleash the pass rushers and cause Henne to lose his cool. Tully Banta-Cain is the best Patriots pass rusher and Mike Wright seems to have a knack for getting the the quarterback. Throw in an angry Vince Wilfork and New England defensive line should be willing and able to shake Henne and cause some turnovers.
- UNLEASH MOSS AND BRADY:
Randy Moss sees history on the horizon. He is eight yards away from becoming the second receiver, (Jerry Rice being the other) to record 1,000 yards in ten straight seasons. He has to believe he could have reached that plateau the past two week but was shut down by the Jets (the best pass preventing defense) and the Saints (by defensive specialist Darren Sharper). Miami’s passing defense is at the bottom of the league (23rd overall). Tom Brady and Moss have to know that.
Miami’s best defensive backs Yeremiah Bell and Vontae Davis will be following Moss, just like last time. Randy went deep often and ended the game with 147 yards and a touchdown. Off a bye week, Tom Brady exploded for 332 yards, including a 71 yard bomb that went to, you guessed it, Randy Moss. It was Brady’s longest touchdown pass of the season. New England doesn’t lose twice in a row and expect the combo of Brady and Moss to make sure it doesn’t happen.
- WES WELKER, ENOUGH SAID:
Simple fact: New England is 4-0 when Wes Welker goes over 100 yards receiving. They are 2-3 when he doesn’t. Nothing else has to be said. Get Welker the ball and let him do something with it. Then let Joey Porter complain later.
- ENJOY DECEMBER:
In the new millennium, New England has the best record in December, 50-28. They play harder and know that momentum gained now builds towards the playoffs. A win gives them space over the Jets in the East and all but eliminats the Dolphins. Tony Sporano would love to keep his 4-0 record in December alive, but with his team hurting, there is no reason why New England shouldn’t crush the Dolphins. Although New England does not like to look ahead, they need to realize that they do not have an easy schedule ahead and by tearing apart a hurting ‘fins team, they will take a necessary step into playing in the new year.
I always love when Tom Brady talks after a loss. My favorite response to losing two games in a row was, “you can’t, because then there’s a chance you can lose three.” It always seems that New England is best after a loss, they tend to regroup and take all frustration out on the next opponent. Unfortunately of Miami, they drew the short straw and are wounded. Fully expect a blowout and for New England to shut up their critics about a weak defense.
New England 34 Miami 10 (at least one defensive touchdown)
Tags: Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins, Mike Wright, Patriots, Randy Moss, Ricky Williams, Ted Ginn Jr., Tom Brady, Tony Sporano, Tully Banta-Cain, Vince Wilfork, Vontae Davis, Wes Welker