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Week 14 Preview: Patriots at Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill led the Dolphins to a win last week in snowy Pittsburgh.

Welcome to the PG era, folks: Post-Gronk. Luckily for the Patriots, they will be (hopefully) eased in by the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins, however, are far from an easy opponent. While the Patriots struggled with a middling Cleveland team last week, the Fins scored an impressive victory over a competitive Steelers team. Miami represents one of a handful of entirely confusing AFC teams. They appear, at times, to be a team capable of great things. Then they lose to the Bills. Which Miami will the Pats see on Sunday?

Luckily for New England, they can dictate which Fins squad they will face. The Dolphins have lost to teams that have upset their gameplan and made them think on their feet. The Bucs and Panthers provide good examples. Both teams are led by dominant linebackers, Lavonte David and Luke Kuechly, respectively. Both teams’ defenses flow through these LB’s, and this provides them with the ability to win the battles in the trenches and to keep opposing teams’ offensive weapons in check.

The Patriots need to do their best to emulate these teams. They need Aqib Talib to be physical with Mike Wallace at the line of scrimmage to keep him from breaking through for big yards. The Para do not have the speed to compete with Wallace and to protect short threats like Brian Hartline and Charles Clay. They need to compensate by being physical and by pressuring Ryan Tannehill. Otherwise, the Dolphins will beat them up with short yardage plays and bide their time until Wallace breaks free for a big play. Find odds for the Patriots’ chances at doing this at

The Patriots cannot allow this to happen because, without Gronkowski, their offense lacks the firepower to compete with a Miami offense playing their best football. The Fins’ defense is mediocre at best, but we have seen how the Pats struggled early in the season without Gronk. The easiest route to success will be to use the running game to open up big plays for Brady downfield. The running game, with Ridley, Bolden and Blount, has the potential to absolutely dominate a Dolphins rush defense that is impotent outside of Cameron Wake. As long as the Pats move the ball with at least mild success, they will be able to dominate the weak Miami defense. Undoubtedly, New England can hang a lot of points on Miami. The real key to the Pats’ success is their defense preventing the Fins from doing the same.

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