TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 17: Miami Dolphins At New England Patriots

Dolphins
Patriots
Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs
New England Patriots 42 - Houston Texans 14
Quarterback
The Dolphins should be very pleased with the season they have had under first-year head coach Joe Philbin. They are 7-8 with a chance to finish at .500 if they can upset the Patriots. While that’s not likely, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has shown he can read defenses and throw the ball accurately.
Winner The Patriots are probably kicking themselves as a result of their Week 15 loss to the Niners. If they had won that game, they would be in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Even with that loss, they still have a chance for it if the Texans and Broncos lose their season finales. No quarterback can deliver a much-needed win like Tom Brady and he should be sharp in this game.
Offense
The Dolphins simply don’t have the kind of offense to threaten the best teams in the league, but they have gotten the most mileage out of the talent they have on hand. Reggie Bush has explosive speed and talent, but he performs inconsistently. Wideout Brian Hartline plays with effort and has become a solid receiver.
Winner Running back Stevan Ridley had a tough game against the 49ers because he could not hold on to the ball in the elements and Bill Belichick went away from him for much of the game. He should be back in the mix this week. Brady should be able to do whatever he wants in throwing the ball to Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd. The Pats could get Rob Gronkowski (broken arm) back for this game.
Defense
The Dolphins rank 16th in yards allowed and eighth in rushing defense. Linebacker Karlos Dansby is coming off a 10-tackle effort in the Dolphins’ Week 16 victory over the Bills. He leads the Dolphins in tackles this season. Defensive end Cameron Wake has become one of the most explosive pass rushers in the league.
Winner The Pats still struggle against the pass, but they are much better than they were earlier in the year. Still, they rank 29th against the pass. That’s likely to be a bigger problem in the postseason than it will be against the Dolphins. The key to New England’s defense is the ability of Vince Wilfork to shut down the interior run and collapse the pocket.
Special Teams
The Patriots have done an outstanding job in both punt and kickoff return differential. Zoltan Mesko is one of the best directional punters in the league. He gets great height on his kicks. Stephen Gostkowski is a fine field goal kicker who has made 29-of-35 FG attempts this season.
Winner The Dolphins have done a solid job of covering both kickoffs and punts. Return specialist Marcus Thigpen has been a solid performer, scoring touchdowns on both punt and kickoff returns. Brandon Fields has a huge leg and is averaging better than 50 yards per punt.

The Winner Is

New England Patriots 42 - Houston Texans 14
Winner Patriots
4 out of 4

The Patriots are currently the No. 3 seed in the AFC. If they beat the Dolphins and the Texans and Broncos lose, the Pats would move up to the No. 1 seed in the AFC. While it’s unlikely the Broncos will lose to the Chiefs, the Texans will have their hands filled with the Colts.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants breaks a tackle by Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins in the second half at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 25:   Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against Everson Griffen #97 and Tom Johnson #92 of the Minnesota Vikings in the 1st half during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: New York Giants At Minnesota Vikings

    The Vikings defense has annihilated every opponent so far. Can they do it to the explosive Giants offense this week?

  2. KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 25: Center Mitch Morse #61 of the Kansas City Chiefs prepares to snap the ball to Alex Smith #11 at Arrowhead Stadium during the second quarter of the game against the New York Jets on September 25, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers passes against  Bennie Logan #96 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
    Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: Kansas City Chiefs At Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Chiefs and Steelers battle it out in a match-up of AFC playoff contenders.

  3. ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws against the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Running back Carlos Hyde #28 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 37-18.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: Dallas Cowboys At San Francisco 49ers

    The Cowboys have been rolling with rookie QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. They look to continue that momentum this week.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Los Angeles

KNX 1070 Newsradio
Play.It
Follow Us On Twitter

Listen Live