Week 14 Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots At Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackThe Patriots are functioning as they often do, which is at an extremely high level. They have been dominant during their eight-game winning streak, and Tom Brady is almost always the difference maker. Some opponents may be able to stay with the Pats for a portion of the game, but Brady takes over and always puts key points on the board. He has a 26-4 TD-interception ratio.The Dolphins have not been able to play back to the form that saw them earn a spot in the playoffs in Adam Gase’s first year as head coach. Injuries have hurt the Dolphins, but that’s not a good excuse in the NFL. Jay Cutler has been the emergency fill-in this season after Ryan Tannehill (knee) was injured, and he has been ordinary.
- OffenseThe Patriots have many key options on offense that allow them to build a unique gameplan on an every-week basis. Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead are the main options when it comes to running the ball, while Danny Amendola, James White and Brandin Cooks are the main receiving options. TE Rob Gronkowski will not play in this game due to his one-game suspension for an irresponsible hit.The Dolphins have the opposite problem of the Patriots. Miami does not have a lot of options when it comes to moving the ball consistently or getting into the endzone. Running back Kenyon Drake runs hard, but he has 320 yards and is not a threat. Jarvis Landry has caught 80 passes, but his 8.7 yards per catch mark is unimpressive. Kenny Stills is the team’s big-play threat.
- DefenseThe Patriots had a brutal start on defense this year, as it appeared they would have problems stopping a strong college offense. That situation has improved dramatically, as the Patriots have allowed 17 points or less during the winning streak, and have held two opponents to single digits. Defensive end Trey Flowers has 6.0 sacks, while outside backer Kyle Van Noy (leg) has a team-high 73 tackles.The Dolphins have the kind of individual talent that should allow them to rank with the top defensive teams in the league. However, this unit has played largely uninspired football as the Miami defense ranks 18th in yards allowed. Kiko Alonso is fast, athletic and nasty at the LB spot, while DT Ndamukong Suh is a dangerous force who can cause havoc – and injuries.
- Special TeamsThe Patriots always rank among the best special teams in the league, and they have a top kickoff return specialist in Lewis, who has a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown this season. PK Stephen Gostkowski has made 29-of-32 FG attempts this season.The Dolphins can be competitive on special teams, but they will have to step up their game against this opponent. PK Cody Parkey has made 13-of-14 FG attempts this season, but Matt Haack has a 40.9-yard net average and that’s just average.
The Patriots have long had problems when they travel to Miami, but that may not be the case here because Cutler shows no indication that he wants to battle for 60 minutes to get the job done.