Storyline: The Patriots need to win today in order to secure the number one seed in the AFC playoffs. It won’t be easy against a Dolphins team that is much improved and in the playoffs.
Miami has been a house of horrors for the Patriots through the years. Today will be a tough test for them.
Here are five keys to the game.
1. Stay Healthy: The Patriots need to win this game and come out of it healthy. It’s a delicate balance. If the Patriots get off to a big lead, look for Bill Belichick and his coaches to start reducing guys snaps and pulling them from the game.
2. Get Brady Upright: Miami has an effective base pass rush so they can get to Tom Brady. The Patriots offensive line has played well this season.
They will need to play well today against a defensive line that can generate consistent pressure. Tom Brady must be protected at all costs!
3. Keep Pounding: The Patriots have run the ball well this season. They need to keep pounding and keep the ground game churning as they head into the playoffs.
They must run the ball effectively in this game and continue to work towards being more balanced.
4. Mix Up Your Looks Defensively: The Patriots have played championship caliber defense the past eight weeks. They will need to continue to play at that level heading into the playoffs including today.
Bottom line. The defense cannot have a bad day at the office.
5. Manage the Field Conditions: The field conditions are terrible at Hard Rock Stadium. That means longer cleats, shorter cuts. The Patriots have to be careful.
Prediction: Patriots 28 Dolphins 24: The Patriots will have their hands full with the much improved Dolphins team but I think they’ll find a way to get it done and lock up home field throughout the AFC playoffs.