Coming off of an unforeseen victory, the New England Patriots open Gillette Stadium for the first time this season against the Miami Dolphins. Miami suffered a loss to Seattle last week that could have been prevented had Kenny Stills hung onto a deep pass where he was wide open. The Patriots are looking to stay grounded, while the ‘Fins are ready to make a statement. Let’s Go.
Garoppolo looked solid last week, but he will certainly face more pressure this week. Upon further review, the Cardinals did not bring much extra pressure to force the QB to make mistakes. This is something that Miami is known to do, and they will likely take advantage of the lackluster offensive line and the quarterback’s inexperience. Jimmy will need to look for quick options in his RBs and Julian Edelman to get the ball out as fast as possible.
LeGarrette Blount will likely not be a big factor in this game. Miami’s defensive line has been known to stop the run extremely well, and with a big back like Blount who takes extra time to get going, it will be difficult to run for more than 70 yards. James White is the more likely option. His ability to quickly slip behind the coverage into open field makes him extremely valuable this week. I expect him to get atleast 8 targets and bring them in for close to 100 yards receiving.
Edelman and Amendola will be the keys in the passing game again this week. Their quick shifty styles of play, along with their sure hands, will allow Jimmy to work through the offense with precision and confidence. Malcolm Mitchell got a few looks last week, and as he gets more comfortable, I expect him to get worked in more and more as he gets more experience.
Bennett will likely be used in the blocking game again, and that is something that we have to expect while Gronk is out. The extra help will always be necessary, especially without Vollmer on the right side, and Solder still battling some injuries.
I am not excited for this offensive line. As we discussed earlier, the Dolphins will likely send more rushers than the Cardinals did. With an offensive line that is inexperienced (and overall not that great) I expect there to be some timing problems for Garoppolo. He may be forced to throw the ball quicker than he did last week, and he may be hit off the edge faster than he has before. These differences could result in interceptions and strip sacks. Coach Scar certainly has his hands full this week. Key in on Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, who will be the two biggest impact players on the defensive line for Miami.
For New England’s defensive line, there will be an opening up the middle with Miami’s center, Mike Pouncey, out for today’s game. Their biggest problem will be keeping up with Arian Foster on the outside runs that he is known for. Guys like Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long will be expected to set the edge, and I’m not sure how capable Long will be to do that. Alan Branch and Malcom Brown should be able to get pressure up the middle and force Ryan Tannehill outside of the pocket.
Dont’a Hightower is inactive this week, so his role will be taken over by Jamie Collins and Jonathan Freeny. They need to be able to keep up with Foster out of the backfield and TE Jordan Cameron. Collins and Freeny will also be responsible for setting the alignments and schemes. With Hightower out, I expect there to be less defensive changes while Collins adjusts to the role.
The secondary is interesting this week. Miami has receivers that all have their traditional roles. Jarvis Landry is the possession receiver, Kenny Stills is the big play guy, and DeVante Parker is the big body who can go up and high-point the ball. I expect the Patriots to throw a bunch of different looks in the secondary at this versatile receiving core. I don’t think there will be a game-plan of sticking one CB on a specific WR this week. A lot of mixing and matching for a team game.
PREDICTION: Patriots 27 Dolphins 20
That is my quick Pats Preview. I’m sorry about the lack of depth, the review will go into much more detail.