Awaiting the New England Patriots this weekend is their own personal House of Horrors. Seven times have they lost at Hard Rock Stadium dating back to 2013, with some clearly worse than others (looking at you 2018). Now this year, the Miami Dolphins enter the year with a lot of hype after a huge offseason. Headlined with the acquisitions of Tyreek Hill, Terron Armstead, and Chase Edmonds. Additionally, they picked up now former San Francisco 49ers’ OC Mike McDaniel as their new head coach.
Even with the big offseason, the Dolphins already had a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. If not for Jaylen Waddle, Mike Geisicki, Xavien Howard, Jaelen Phillips, and Springfield, Mass’ own Christian Wilkins all jump out immediately. Then there is third-year signal caller Tua Tagovailoa, who has had immense pressure put on him from all fronts, perhaps too much. Wouldn’t call it a great thing when your newest teammate goes out of his way to say things like “So this is basically his last year, man, just to show people what he’s got” and “Obviously, like I’m gonna go with 15 as the strongest arm but as far as accuracy-wise, I’m going with Tua all day”.
In short, the Patriots are going to have their hands full this Sunday, but they may have one thing in their favor. McDaniel of course is making his head coaching debut, and Bill Belichick has been dominant against rookies as of late, winning his last 8-of-9. Even with Mac Jones leading a new offensive look with Matt Patricia calling the shots, is that the edge this team needs?
Date: Sunday, September 11th
Start Time: 1:00 EST
Location: Miami Gardens, Florida
Stadium: Hard Rock Stadium
TV Info: CBS (Greg Gumbel and Adam Archuleta on the call)
Points Spread: MIA -3.5 (-105) | NE +3.5 (-115)
Moneyline: MIA (-172) | NE (+144)
Over/Under: O 46.5 (-105) | U 46.5 (-115)
A wise man with a feline last name once told me that “Life is too short to bet the under”. This is also being written by someone’s who first-ever bet was the under in a Seattle Seahawks Philadelphia Eagles playoff game (never in doubt). With that said, this feels like a tricky game to bet on with the early uncertainty with both teams. The under feels like a solid play, and I would also lean toward Miami -3.5 if I had to choose an option ATS.
The single biggest thing for the Patriots this weekend is getting off to a good start. The common trend in their seven most recent losses in Miami is a lack of points on the board. In that span, they’ve averaged 2.71 first-quarter points in those seven losses (including four scoreless quarters). That number in the three most recent wins (2012, 2016, 2019) jumps up to 9.33. Coaching regimes in Miami have come and gone but those numbers have been consistent. Patricia getting this offense into a rhythm right of the gate is paramount. Hopefully, the issues from the final preseason game are a thing of the past.
For the Dolphins, they need a good game out of center Connor Williams, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys. His 14 total penalties a year ago (11 holding) outright led the National Football League. Should he show that he is grabby up front, the Patriots will absolutely exploit that. Elsewhere, other pass catchers need to step up in the event Hill likely gets a bracket double team. The Patriots have done this in years past, no better example than in the 2018 AFC Title game where he had just one catch, granted for 42 yards.
This feels like a relatively even matchup on paper, but this is also a Patriots game in Miami. Most of what can go wrong typically does. The fact this is McDaniel’s first outing is a plus for New England, but he has a ton of pieces on the chess board to play with. The Patriots winning this wouldn’t be a complete shock, but they’re the underdog here for a reason.
Final Score: Miami Dolphins 24, New England Patriots 20
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