Week 13: New England Patriots At Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackTom Brady is perhaps the sharpest quarterback in the league. When it comes to understanding what opposing defenses can and can’t do, Brady is at the top of the list. He is also close to the best when it comes to passing accuracy, arm strength and quick release. He understands as much about offensive game planning as Bill Belichick.Ryan Tannehill is exceeding expectations for his rookie performance. He has a great rapport with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and that has allowed him to make wonderful progress. Tannehill has a quick release and is an accurate passer.
- OffenseThe Patriots have a well-round offensive game. Stevan Ridley is a hard-nosed running back who takes just enough pressure off of Brady and the passing game. While the Patriots suffered a serious blow when they lost Rob Gronkowski (arm), they have plenty of weapons including Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Aaron Hernandez who can make game-changing plays.The running game is not much of an option for the Dolphins at this point. Reggie Bush had 87 yards in the Week 12 win over Seattle, but he lacks dependability. Brian Hartline is an excellent route runner who knows how to get open. Davone Bess has improved quite a bit since the start of the season.
- DefenseGive credit to the Patriots for making moves with their secondary. It was awful early in the year, but there are signs that it is improving, thanks to Aqib Talib and improvement from some of the unit’s young players. The run defense has been solid throughout the season and Vince Wilfork can dominate the interior play with his bulk and quickness.The Dolphins have played well on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive end Cameron Wake has become a big-time pass rusher. He leads the Dolphins with 9.5 sacks and has an excellent first step when rushing the quarterback. Linebacker Karlos Dansby is a tackling machine. He leads the team with 83 tackles and he also has seven passes defensed.
- Special TeamsEdelman has been a revelation on special teams, both as a returner and in coverage. He has the speed to break a long return and he was in the right place at the right time when he picked up a Jets fumble on a kickoff and return it for a touchdown. The combination of Stephen Gostkowski and Zoltan Mesko is quite underrated.The Dolphins have done a solid job with their coverage teams this year. They have an advantage in both punt and kickoff returns. Marcus Thigpen has returned both a punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown this season. Dan Carpenter is a good but not great NFL kicker.
The Dolphins can’t match the Patriots in talent, but they have played very well under rookie head coach Joe Philbin and gotten the most out of their ability. An upset over the Patriots would be a signature win. They would probably have to register at least three takeaways to have a chance. Brady has been sharp, so it will be difficult.