Things are looking up for the Dolphins. They have won three of their last four games. They are undefeated in the AFC East division. Their special teams is playing better. Coaches are milking the offense for everything it has. The defense is playing well enough -- especially in the first three quarters of games.
So why do I have this feeling of dread?
Oh, yeah, I remember now.
The Evil Empire looms.
I know you don't want to hear this because you are here, and that pretty much means you're a Dolphins fan. And that pretty much means you hope, pray, expect good things to happen to your team. And so you want me to give you the good news of the day.
But what I have for you this morning is not a feel-good vibe.
I have done the matchups for this game and I'm having a hard time finding a coalition of reasons that together can convince me the Dolphins will beat New England on Sunday. So this is how we're going to do this.
I am going to share with you the reasons I think the Patriots will win Sunday. And you, loyal fans and smarter people than I, will give me the counterpoint. You will give me the reasons you believe the Dolphins will win. And, by the way, "Armando you're a dummy," is not a reason you can use because while that is sometimes true, it does not actually give Miami any advantage.
So remember, I'm going to give you my argument to believe Miami will not defeat New England this Sunday. You give me the reasons you believe the Dolphins come out of Foxboro, Mass. with a W.
You are also free to agree with me if you have your feet planted on the ground rather than stepping all over Cloud Nine.
The reasons the Dolphins lose:
1. Tom Brady. He's an excellent quarterback who can identify and promptly beat blitzes, particularly when New England goes to its empty set packages. Those packages force defenses to declare themselves and not disguise their looks so much. That's bad for a team, like the Dolphins, that needs to blitz to get to the QB.
2. The Dolphins have struggled beating outstanding quarterbacks this season. Fact is, so far in 2009, the Dolphins haven't beaten any quarterbacks that own any sort of outstanding reputation. That is not a coincidence, in my opinion.
3. The Patriots are home. That advantage is obvious.
4. The Patriots are coming off a bye week. That means New England has had the opportunity to work out the kinks of defending against the Wildcat package. And that hurts the Dolphins.
5. Wes Welker. He's a matchup nightmare for Miami.
"I don’t think you are really going to stop Wes from getting the ball," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "Some of these protected hitch screens that they throw, things that are behind the line of scrimmage that he gets his hands on the football before you get a chance to get to him. These two- or three-yard throws that turn into big plays. I think what you can do is you got to be able to limit the yards after contact.
"Now that is easier said than done. Right now the guy in the last couple of games has 20 catches and 286 yards after those catches. It is a staggering number, it really is."
6. The Patriots are excellent at finding an opponent's weakness and exploiting it. Not every team does this. The Bills, for example, had a clear personnel advantage on the outside with their perimeter offensive people vs. Miami's secondary and yet, their game plan was to run the football -- something the Dolphins defend well. Inexplicable.
The Patriots see that Miami will at times have three rookies in the secondary. They know, for example, that Welker could be a matchup problem for big, physical Sean Smith. They will find a way to get that matchup unless the Dolphins move Smith around with Randy Moss on every play.
7. The Patriots give up a whopping 4.5 yards per rush this season. That is terrible. And that is a huge advantage for the Dolphins. Except that New England will likely load up against the run and dare the Miami receivers to beat cornerbacks Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs in one-on-one matchups. Problem is no Miami receiver has proven consistent in winning those type of matchups this season.
8. Ben Watson is a fine tight end. Fine tight ends shred the Miami defense.
9. Chad Henne hasn't really lived until he's looked into the teeth of a Bill Belichick defense. He will do that this weekend. Hope Henne did his homework this week. He's going to need it to make the proper pre-snap reads. Very few first-year starters make those reads consistently enough against Belichick.
10. Looking at the rosters, the Dolphins are better at RB, LB, and P. The Patriots are better at QB, WR, DB, and special teams. The teams are about equal at OL, DL, K, and coaching. Sorry, but I'd rather have the N.E. roster because it simply has more playmakers.
Ok, now that your blood is boiling, get your responses flowing ...
[BLOG ANNOUNCEMENT: Be sure to come back by mid-afternoon because I'll be updating with the latest info from the coordinators, the locker room and Sparano.]