By Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff
This weeks match-up against the Dolphins is a lose-lose situation for the Patriots, but it will still be an exciting game. If the Patriots lose the game, it was just prove what most fans are already thinking; that the Patriots are a good, but not an elite team, that has a hard time winning road games and will not contend for the Super Bowl this year. If the Pats win, it doesn’t prove anything as the 5-6 Miami is without Ronnie Brown and coming of a bad loss to the Bills. However, it will be an exciting game as Miami needs this win to stay in the playoff hunt. They are also at home, a place that is always difficult for the Pats, regardless of the team’s win-loss record.
The Patriots will clearly have a chip on their shoulder as they are coming off one of the worst losses in the last ten years. They were completely helpless against the Saints deadly offensive strikes and were unable to defend Brady against a three-man rush. So as a result, most people will be looking for the Pats to get their mojo back and to fix some of the glaring problems they had last week. Heck, last year Arizona was able to turn it around after the Pats crushed them in the snow late in December. There is no reason to believe the Patriots can’t do as well. Look for these 5 matchups in this AFC East match-up:
1. Patriots Offensive line vs. Miami Rush
Patriots O-line was decimated last week by a simple three-man rush. Tom Brady had no time to throw the ball as the pocket was constantly collapsing around him. Look for the O-line to get their mean streak back and push around the likes of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor.
2. Moss and Welker vs. Miami Secondary
The Saints double teamed both Randy Moss and Wes Welker, which isn’t anything those two hasn’t seen. However, they were clearly flustered and did not have effective games. Look for these two elite receivers to put that game behind them and effectively find the open spaces in the Miami secondary.
3. Ricky Williams vs. Patriots LBs
Despite the loss of Ronnie Brown, the Miami running game still looks very potent. Ricky Williams is having a great season and is the number one threat for Miami. The Patriot linebackers will be marking him all game, forcing the Dolphins to throw the ball.
4. Laurence Maroney vs. Miami LBs
Laurence is playing well and look for him to continue to lower his shoulder at the end of his explosive runs. After three straight games with a fumble, it’s becoming an issue for him. Look for him to take extra care of the rock. As the weather gets colder, he will become a more integral part of the Patriots offense.
5. Ted Ginn Jr. vs. Pats Special Teams
The Patriots were able to stop Ted Ginn Jr. in their previous meeting, but he is still fourth in the league in average return yards (28.8) and is a threat to break one for 6 at any time.