NEWwbztv-small wbz-am-small 985-small mytv38web2

Tale of the tape

Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots At Miami Dolphins

(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) (credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) (credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

New England Patriots

Miami Dolphins

After a mediocre start, Tom Brady has turned his season around and has led the Patriots to three remarkable come-from-behind victories in the last three games. Brady reads defenses well and spreads the ball around to his receivers. Brady is completing 60.8 percent of his passes and has a 21-9 TD-interception ratio. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has exceeded expectations for the Dolphins in his first two years, but if he is going to establish himself as one of the game’s better quarterbacks he has more work to do. That work includes leading the Dolphins to the playoffs. While they need help, Tannehill will have to perform well in this game against New England’s vulnerable defense.
The Patriots suffered a major blow in their Week 14 victory over the Cleveland Browns when tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a severe knee injury (torn ACL and MCL). Gronkowski’s strength and power after the catch made him the Pats’ most important player other than Brady. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will have to do more to make up for his absence. Offense The Dolphins appeared to be a lost cause at midseason when the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito controversy threatened to wreck the offensive line. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have provided a decent punch at the running back position, while wide receiver Brian Hartline can get open and will catch anything he can reach. Speedy Mike Wallace is a dangerous deep threat.
The Patriots’ defense has been torn apart by injuries and head coach Bill Belichick does not have the depth to make up for the losses of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. Cornerback Aqib Talib is a solid cover man, and he will have to keep Wallace in check. Defensive end Chandler Jones has a team-high 10.5 sacks and has speed coming around the corner. Defense The Dolphins rank 16th in overall defense and head coach Joe Philbin regularly gets a solid effort from his players on this side of the ball. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler is quite underrated. He leads the team with 92 tackles and has the range to go sideline-to-sideline to make tackles. Defensive ends Olivier Vernon (11.5 sacks) and Cameron Wake (7.5 sacks) are capable of causing problems for Brady.
The Patriots made a huge play on special teams when they recovered placekicker Stephen Gostkowski’s onside kick in the final minute of their comeback victory against the Browns. The Pats are solid in their punt and kickoff coverage, while Gostkowski has made 30-of-32 FG attempts. Special Teams The Dolphins have done a decent job of covering kickoffs and punts, but they are not a threat to turn a game around with a big play because return specialist Marcus Thigpen is quite ordinary. Caleb Sturgis is an ordinary placekicker (25-of-33) who does not inspire confidence when the game is on the line.

The winner is

(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
New England Patriots
3 out of 4

The Dolphins may be catching the Patriots at the right time following the loss of Gronkowski. The Pats have been slow starting and that could cost them against a hungry team playing at home.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

More Tales of the tape

  1. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: 2013 Red Sox vs. 2014 Red Sox

    How do the 2014 Boston Red Sox stack up against the 2013 World Champs? We take a look in the newest Tape of the Tape!

  2. Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees
    Which Team Is Having A Worse Season: Red Sox Or Yankees?

    The Red Sox are the defending World Series champions, yet they’re sitting comfortably in fourth place in the division. Meanwhile, the Yankees have MLB’s highest payroll yet are still hovering around .500. With the two [...]

  3. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/Richard Heathcote) (Photo Credit: Getty Images/Warren Little)
    Tale Of The Tape: Winter Olympics In Sochi Vs. FIFA World Cup In Brazil

    With both sites having their share of issues in hosting major international sporting events, we went to the tape to decide who was the worst host of 2014.

See all Tales of the Tape