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Patriots to Engage Dolphins in Christmas Eve Clash

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In a Christmas Eve matinée, the New England Patriots (11-3) will host the Miami Dolphins (5-9) at 1:00 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

The Patriots have won six in a row, and the offense appears to be firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, Miami has won five of their last seven after starting 0-7.

Last Week

In Week 15 action, the Patriots traveled to Denver and shut down the unpredictable Broncos attack in a 41-23 win. Tom Brady passed for 320 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while the defense won the turnover battle 3-0 and registered four sacks.

Miami continued their second half resurgence, traveling to Orchard Park to defeat the Buffalo Bills 30-23, Miami gunslinger Matt Moore tossed for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Reggie Bush torched the Buffalo defense with 203 yards and two scores.

Recent History

Over the Belichick era, the Patriots have owned this match up with a 14-9 record against Miami. The Dolphins have fared even worse in Foxborough, going 8-3 during that time. In their most recent contest, New England throttled Miami in a 38-24 win on the opening Monday night in which Tom Brady tossed for a career-high 517 yards.

Key Matchup – Offense

Tight ends vs. Miami linebackers
If there is one fact that has become apparent throughout the year, it’s that Tom Brady really enjoys throwing to his tight ends. Sophomores Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have torched opposing defenses, with each possessing their own unique matchup advantage for Brady to exploit.

In three career games against the Dolphins, Gronkowski has 13 receptions for 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In Hernandez’s two games against them, he has accumulated 132 yards on two receptions, scoring once. If Tom Brady is able to find his young weapons open early, the Patriots will extend their winning streak to seven.

Key Matchup – Defense

Reggie Bush vs. Defensive Line
In the first meeting between these teams on opening night, Bush seized his first opportunity as a Dolphin. Bush was effective on the first Miami drive of the game by being a key contributor on Miami’s opening touchdown drive. Bush finished the contest with 38 yards on 11 carries, and had nine receptions for 56 yards and a score.

After a slugging middle part of the season, the USC-alum has torched opponents run defenses. In his last eight games, Bush had 741 rushing yards, 173 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. If the Patriots can remove Bush from the Dolphins’ game-plan, expect an easy New England win.

Prediction

With a bye and home field advantage on the line, expect Coach Belichick to have his team focused against a hot division opponent. Patriots win 31-14.

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