The Patriots (10-3) travel down to Miami to face the Dolphins (7-6).
This is the Patriots first game the Patriots have played since Gronk tore his ACL. So this game should provide some clarity on how this offense will be without Gronk. I still think this offense will get it done. I expect Bellichick to give Ridley another chance to lead this rushing attack, and I expect Vereen to become a major asset in this Patriots passing offense.
Dobson and Thompkins are going to have to become major outside threats and vertical options for Brady. This will open up the game for Edelman and Amendola in the slot. All of these guys are going to need to step up to help fill the shoes that Gronk has left the Patriots again late in the year. Also it will be interesting to see if Bellichick and Brady work Josh Boyce into the offense, who has the speed to be a deep threat. He reminds me a little of Brandon Tate.
On the defensive side of the ball, we really need these guys to step up. If we let a guy like Josh Campbell tear our secondary up, Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace, and Brian Hartline are going to have a field day. Guys like Talib, Dennard, and McCourty need to step up and start forcing turnovers. But the only way that is going to happen is if the front seven can put pressure on Tannahill and force him into mistakes.
Ryan Tannehill can not only throw the ball, he can also run around in the pocket and scramble for extra yards. Cam Newton did this and ran for 62 yards against the Patriots, and he bailed the Panthers out of third down situations with his legs. The Patriots have to keep Tannehill in the pocket and force him to throw the ball. If Tannehill can use his legs as a weapon, expect a long day for this Patriots Defense.
The one thing that may work in the Patriots favor this week is that the Dolphins struggle running the football. Lamar Miller has only rushed for 567 yards this season. To put that into perspective Ridley has rushed 611 yards and he has sat out a game, and has barely played in two due to his reoccurring fumbling problem. Miller has only rushed for over 75 yards once this season, and the Patriots need to keep it that way.
I expect Tannehill to rack up the passing yards on the Patriots secondary. Look for big games from the Dolphins Tight end Charles Clay, as the Patriots showed last week how much they struggle covering opposing Tight ends. Also look for a big game from Mike Wallace, as Talib is still hobbled from a hip injury. Expect a few big plays from Wallace.
Another injury to monitor is the concussion Nate Solder is dealing with. Solder is the Patriots best offensive linemen and if he can’t go, expect Tom Brady to be under some serious pressure from the Dolphins Defense.
The Dolphins are playing for their playoff lives this week, so expect them to play with that kind of intensity. The game is in Miami which works in the Dolphins favor. Tom Brady and this Patriots offense is going to have to have a big game against this Dolphins Defense just a week after losing Gronkowski, because Tannehill will have a big game against this secondary. But my gut tells me to stick with the Patriots and believe that the Patriots Offense will find a way without Gronkowski. My Final Prediction, 31-28 Patriots.
If you are a gambling man take Miami (Patriots will not cover 3.5 spread) and take the over.