The Patriots are set to host the Dolphins this Thursday night and one match-up that could come into focus is the Patriots’ offensive line vs the Dolphins defensive line. The Dolphins don’t have the same talent across the board as the Jets, but they have two elite players in Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh. Suh is an excellent interior lineman when he has his head in the game and will be a handful for the Patriots interior offensive line. However, it is Wake who could end up being more of a problem for New England.
Wake already has six sacks this season and the Patriots are hurting at offensive tackle. If Marcus Cannon cannot play, then the starting tackle opposite Sebastian Vollmer will be Cameron Fleming. Miami will likely try to match-up Wake with Fleming as much as possible making this battle of the “Cams” important to the outcome of the game. When teams have beaten a Patriots offense in the last 15 years they have generally done three things” get pressure up the middle, have a good edge rusher, and cover well. Miami is not great in coverage but definitely checks off the other two boxes. If the Patriots line gets beat off the ball consistently, then Tom Brady will not have adequate time to defeat the Dolphins coverage. The battle around the edge is especially important because Brady struggled in the first half against the Cowboys this season and excellent edge rusher Greg Hardy.
Wake is a superior player to Fleming, but Fleming held his own last week against the Jets. The Patriots will also try to help Fleming out by chipping Wake off the edge with running backs and tight ends. Even so, there will be instances where the young tackle has to block Wake one on one. Wake has shown that when he gets going, he can have a monster game. His four first half sacks against the Titans changed how Tennessee played that game and he could do the same to the Patriots.
Miami could move Wake around and have him face off with Vollmer, but the better match-up for them is Fleming. If Marcus Cannon plays he will not be 100% and signs are pointing to the possibility of him sitting out. There is a strong possibility that Fleming will once again be forced into the starting role. If that is the case, the match-up between the two “Cams” could decide the game.