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Salguero: Miami Dolphins to upset New England

I'm not a homer. You kind people who read this blog daily know you are more likely to get a scathing review of the Dolphins in this space as you are a cheerleading attaboy.

That's just how things are when people don't perform.

That's just how things are when the last two seasons have brought twin 7-9 records and last year's homestand yielded seven failures in eight tries. Stuff like that makes me write angry.

Having said that, I'm picking the Dolphins to beat the Patriots Monday night.

I made my prediction on The Herald's Pigskin Challenge yesterday evening. I also will make the same prediction in The Herald's Monday print edition. And I'm saying it here as well, obviously.

I'm saying it here because this is the only venue for me to explain the odd pick. (It's odd considering no other Herald "expert" has picked the Dolphins at this stage and everyone and their mother nationally thinks the Dolphins are, how to put this delicately, crap).

Make no mistake, the Dolphins have issues. I think the right side of their offensive line is like a dam that has tons of little cracks, with the question being when, not if, those cracks will spring a leak. I think running Reggie Bush between the tackles is a joke. I think the secondary had better start working on catching interceptions on the JUGS machine every day after practice because I have not seen them do it as a unit even once this training camp. I think anyone who is certain Chad Henne will play well this season is stupid because that is impossible to know. I think Miami has zero depth at tight end. I think Miami's offense needs either Clyde Gates or Marlon Moore to be good enough to win that second receiver job because no one else is really going to pose a legit deep threat otherwise.

So I see the flaws in the Dolphins. And those are just off the top of my head.

But guess what?

The Patriots have flaws, too.

When I look at the Patriots, I see a well-coached team with the best quarterback in the NFL the last decade. That, in a nutshell, is the reason the Patriots have been so good for such a long time. But that, in a nutshell, is also the reason the Patriots haven't won a playoff game since January 2008 and, indeed, have lost three consecutive postseason games they were favored to win.

That team is mostly about Tom Brady.

The defense? Good, not great.

The receivers corps? If you don't include the tight ends, they're below average. With the tight ends, they're good.

The running backs? Ordinary.

The offensive line? Check the Detroit Lions preseason game. Check the recent addition of Brian Waters. Tell me what that says.

The Patriots maximize their potential. The Dolphins haven't. The Patriots have a franchise QB. The Dolphins haven't had one since 1998.

That, however, doesn't answer why I'm picking the Dolphins. This will:

I recently spoke with two people who talk to Bill Belichick with some frequency. They tell me Belichick is not really thrilled with his team these days.

They point to the fact the Patriots have been something of a turnstile of late, bringing in new players, jettisoning players like Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders, whom most believed had had spots on the roster nailed down.

The comings and goings are a sign of dissatisfaction. Belichick has a plan and wants personnel to fit that plan, and apparently he is still stirring the mix to try to get the recipe just right. And he may well do that. But it will be hard for him to get it right this early.

So the Patriots are not last year's 14-win good. And they're not as good today as they might be a month or two from now. The Dolphins are catching them at the right time. So there's that.

Then I look at the players the Patriots added as their prized offseason additions. Albert Haynesworth? He practiced, what, a grand total of two weeks? And he's ready for the regular season? The man who takes every third play off is ready for a game in Miami's humidity?

I am skeptical.

The Patriots expect to go with a pressure-oriented defense this year. Quick, tell me what pressure-oriented defensive player have they added? Yes, Vince Wilfork is a beast. But he's been there.

Rob Ninkovich again? He's Belichick's latter day Lawrence Taylor? To play pressure defense you have to, well, create pressure. That means they have to find an elite pass rusher or do it as the Jets do -- with schemes. You do it with schemes, you better have great cornerbacks and disciplind safeties. We'll see about that.

On offense the Patriots like their rookie running backs. They can also point to Chad Ocho Cinco as a signature acquisition.

Ocho Cinco brings a great personality to Boston. Of course he does, he's from Miami. And this game he's coming home to play. All wonderful. All cool. And all worthless when the kickoff comes.

Ocho Cinco is still getting acclimated in New England. He is a possession receiver and the Patriots are hoping he can be more than that. I don't see it. Yes, Brady will make him look better than he looked in Cincinnati. Brady would make me look like a better receiver than I typically look in front of a Whopper. But that doesn't mean the Patriots found a 2007 Randy Moss.

"Chad’s been here all of training camp," Belichick said Wednesday. "He hasn’t missed any practice time. He's worked hard and he's spent a lot of time before and after practice working with our quarterbacks and with our receivers and receivers coach and so forth, so I think he’s pretty well versed in what we’re doing offensively. He hasn’t had as much game experience doing it as other players who have been here longer, but that’s the way it is on every team with certain players. I think he’s doing fine."

We'll see.

Look, the Patriots are going to be a good team. Please don't misunderstand. I think they'll eventually win the AFC East. But they've got miles to go and the folks I'm talking to say Belichick knows this and is working hard to correct the gap between what he's got now and what he wants.

The Dolphins, by the way, also haven't arrived. But they have advantages working on their behalf this game.

They have been pointing toward this game all offseason. If Brian Daboll doesn't have three or four surprise plays for New England, I'd be disappointed and so should you. Daboll, by the way, authored the offensive game plan last year that helped the Browns beat the Patriots.

The same holds true for Mike Nolan. He knows it is time for his defense to take the next step. The Dolphins had a good defense last year. Next up, this unit has to be dominant. The way to do that is turn Brady into a tormented soul who wishes he was back dancing in Rio instead of laying on the field at Sun Life.

Enter Cameron Wake. Enter some scheme work to get Jason Taylor loose. Enter a more seasoned Koa Misi. They have to get after Brady to make this thing work. If they fail, my prediction is worthless. (I know, it's probably worthless anyway).

The only way to beat the Patriots is to beat Brady. Hit him. Sack him. Frustrate him. You beat the Patriots.

I think the Dolphins can win the battle up front against the New England offensive line, tight ends and backs. They must win or else.

None of this speaks to the idea that Reggie Bush presents issues for the Patriots. They don't have an exceedingly fast defense. What are they going to do when the Dolphins come out in base offensive personnel, they respond with their base defense, and then Bush shifts out of the backfield and into the slot?

Who is going to check him? A linebacker? Really?

A safety and a backer? And now who's doubling Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess?

Oh, you can't double Bush, Marshall and Bess. Oh, I get it. Ten catches for Davone Bess, fantasy geeks. With five of them going for first downs.

I've said enough.

I know the Dolphins won't be in New England's class by the end of this season. Belichick is too good. Brady is way, way, way too good. Everyone else will fall in line or get shown the door. The culture there breeds success.

But the culture takes time to germinate every season. It needs breeding time. The Pats haven't had that time. And that is a great equalizer.

The Dolphins will grind. They'll use what little weather advantage they have remaining after ownership and the schedule maker chopped them off at the knees with a night game. They have the advantage of unveiling a new offense.

And Miami is desperate, or should be. These guys have a circle-the-wagon mentality going on right now. They're hungry. That means something.

For right now it means I'm picking the Dolphins in this one.

(By the way, this is a prediction. I've been known to be wrong. If I am, indeed, wrong, get over it! Also, this morning a radio station in Boston has turned me into the biggest villian since the Boston strangler. Of course, they didn't speak with me. Nice journalism, boys.)

Follow me on twitter. That means you, WEEI dorks.



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#1 not Yeah this time LOL


great piece esp coz it's positive but also coz it's well argued and points out all those questions the dolphins still haven't answered but that many of us think they finally will i.e. realistically +ve

this is my favourite sentence - its a really legit point

"I think the secondary had better start working on catching interceptions on the JUGS machine every day after practice because I have not seen them do it as a unit even once this training camp."

who knows if we'll win but i agree that if u have to pick a winner it's miami

can't wait

Can you give us a link for Pigskin Challenge? It seems hard to find.

Never mind, lol its http://pigskinchallenge.herald.com/GamePicks.aspx?weekno=-1

Hate it when I have to agree with you, but I do here. I've been saying it all along. Hit Brady in the mouth and he quits. Cam gives Brady a Wake up call in the guise of a sack/strip/return for TD trifecta.

I just hope we don't let off the gas. Miami 31 NE 13.

I agree, Phins to win by 3.

regarding the Patriots Pass rush, Andre Carter is expected to help in that regard and has looked good in pre season. Haynsworth will not last the whole game but each time he's involved he'll push the Phins line into Henne face (a bit like the buccineers did, but on his own).
Having said that, the patriots don't have a great pass rush nor a great secondary. This could be the ideal game to try some of those deep pass plays and Henne has a number of options now.

I feel it too its in the air ...let's go dolphins !!!

Bout time u say something right

The Phins are in every game this year. 1-7 at home last year was fluky. And they were a better team than their record. This year we are a little faster at RB and have a better defensive team.

The only real negative is the o line and it isn't that bad and plays can be designed around weaknesses.

I can't remember reading a blog this good.

I agree on mostly everything, specially how no one can tell how good or bad Henne will be or the entire team for that matter.

The thing I disagree on is that I think the Pats are in for a disappointing season. Well coached they are but at some point talent comes into play and as you said they lack talent ate OL, WR and RB. Then you look at the defense, they only have 4 players that are legitimate starters. The other two are has-beens who were cut from their teams and the rest probably would not be starters on other teams. Good coaches figure out systems which (and I hate to say this) why Rex Ryan was able to beat the Pats in the playoffs. If Sparano is to be a good coach he needs to be able to figure out the Pats system.

have the pats ever faced a miami team who spread it out like they do? sure they practice against it.

But to cover Marshall (whom no one is talking about), bess, hartline, and the new suprise in gates, is not what they are used to.

Daboll is going to make film for other teams cus this game is very important but still works in our advantage cus Houston has short week and they will be coming off their high beating the colts.

Our defense will be in coverage mode with the occasional cb blitz. U can count on Ocho stinko dropping two and screwing up one route. Just cover Wes Welker and the RB's out of the backfield and yes, the two TE's. They will use them alot.


You've restored my faith in mankind.

Brady is going to get punished, and that likely will be the difference in winning game one.

All Chad Henne has to do is execute. Not miss wide open receivers like in preseason. Chad has been good. Time for him to be great.

I find it interesting too that the team with more draft picks, in earlier rounds, than any other team over the past few years is having trouble scouting talent. When Brady is done the Patriots are done.

I like your story. real made some great points. the only thing i find interesting is that you have a "source" that says BB isnt thrilled with this team. Hes a guy that wont let out any info about anything having to do with this team. I live in the NE area and havent heard that at all, but some reporter down in miami is able to get that info??? Seems kinda fishy to me.

Let's hope Gates can catch better than Ginn. If he can that could be huge.

Miami better win or I'm gonna beat the snot out of the first patriots fan I see....I'm gonna do it anyways but it feels better when the Dolphins win...
Great blog Armando....let's not jinx Chad and write a negative blog about him until after the game

Agreed Mando. Good read and well thought out. Go Phins!!!

beerndrums - watch that kind of talk, you don't want us to get a rep like some California stadia I know.

Instant wood.

Fins will win Monday night and they are making a run in the playoffs....the only "expert" that I've heard say that, besides you, is Prisco....after the Fins get rolling all the ducks at espn and other networks will line up and jump on the wagon and won't get called out by anyone....the media today has the biggest stage on top of the biggest platform with the biggest microphone for everyone to hear and see....right now they are saying the Fins are no good, some are saying they will be lucky to win 3 games....after they are proved wrong they switch it around and people will eat it up, still watching and listening to that big microphone on that big platform on that big stage...and no one will call them out...so all you little sheep out there, keep paying your cable and satellite bills and keep listening and following... dam ducks!!!!

Good read. Agree on most points. But i think the pats and jets offseasons were way overrated. I always hear " the pats free agent pick ups, and the jets" But the Jets didnt get anybody really and LOST MOST of their free agents. The free agents the pats picked up were mostly old vets who didnt have good seasons last couple years

Good article mando. About time!

We dont need Chad Henne to be great in order to win our division,good will be good enough.With the defensive unit we are going to put on the field we wont need the offense to light up the scoreboard every week ala Dan Marino and company.Keep the turnovers to a minimum and make the other team drive the whole field to score and we will win most matchups.


















It is amazing how much justification is going on here, the Pats are simply a better team than the Dolphins right now, and Columbo looked like a turnstile with sacks allowed last year. It will be a long night for Henne, who will show everyone that a leopard doesn't change his spots.

Should be about 14-3 at halftime, Pats.

The bleacher report has us down for 2 Wins this year. Even im more optimistic that that. If thats the case. Hopefully we get a coaching staff here that picks Luck with the first overall pick. Our current staff would never make that decision.

the key to the game will be: can we cover their tight ends? in the past few years we have been exploited by TE's running freely and this again is my concern. we havent been able to in the past but this is a new season. did we fix it? we will see.

Oh and fist pumps?? I like yr optimism of 14-3 at the half. I see prob 24-0 at the half. With a 35-10 final against their second strings.

Don't forget the Miami Heat. The Dolphins practiced in the extreme heat and played all 4 preseason games against southern teams.(excluding Atlanta and their dome) New England practiced in milder conditions and 3 of their 4 preseason games were against northern teams, with playing at Tampa in preseason week 2 being the exception. Conditioning could be a factor.

Phins by 10, save something for Houston.

I predict the dolphins will come in hot, and hope they can maintain the intensity throughout the season.

Armando is earning his paycheck today...nice job.

I encourage everyone to watch the Lions/Pats preaseason game from last week.
Brady was under tremendous pressure almost every play by the Lions front line.

Very telling and I'm sure our defense is watching the same tape today.

Pressure on Brady = Fins Victory.

Pretty simple math.

Andy B, Mayo and Spikes are not beasts in the LB core! Spikes had 0 sacks and 61 tackles last year. Mayo did have 2 sacks and 175 tackles. The outside LB's are very weak. I say good luck covering Bush in the open field. Good luck doubling Marshall and leaving Bess over the middle. Ocho was not great the last year or the year before. Last year he had 67 catches for 831 yards. Bess and Marshall had better numbers last year. The only issue we have is stopping the tight ends. They have ate us up the past two years with that so we must stop them there. Haynesworth is still and always will be a chump. We also have to put two bodies on Wilfork to keep the pocket clean.

only issue,lol

split with the pats, beat the jets twice and this will be a great season!! i think only younger fans hate the pats more than the jets. most 40+ guys have a bad history with the hats. of course rex ryan i'm sure is helping to turn some of those pats haters into jets haters!!!

this will be a great opening weekend if dallas beats the jets sunday night and the fins beat the pats monday evening!!

Miami's running game is a great concern.

miamis qb is an even bigger one

I think Henne will be fine. The offensive coordinator was the real big reason for Miami's woes last year. Their vanilla offense was so predictable that 2 separate games the opposing team were telling the Dolphin players what they were going to run before the play started.

Ah Armando's been reading my blogs its time to make the haters eat some crow this is going to be a speacial season.

Poor Phins Phans, all worked into a preseason lather about how they're going to slay the mighty Patriots dragon on Monday Night Football in front of a national television audience, yeah, like that's going to happen.
Rewind to the Pats / Bucs game and watch Mayo coming off the edge, two sacks, seen that since then? There's a reason for that. Henne's always been his most accurate when he has his offensive line in his lap (Columbo is a Wal-Mart greeter) or when he's running for his life, the wounded ducks fly and the throws go to the wrong color jerseys. BTW, I love the unnamed "two people who talk with Bill Belichick with some frequency", who would they be, the local garbage collector and the guy that changes his oil at the local Jiffy Lube? You guys are going to get pasted on Monday, deal with it.

I have it the same. I hate the way the Patriots just automatically get thrown into the SB every year by the so-called experts. They don't scare me as a team. Yes, Brady scares me. Welker scares me. Wilfork scares me. But as a team, I think we can split with them this season, and I have it better than 50/50% chance in our favor.

On another note, props to odin standing up for me last night, I appreciate it. Nothing I hate more than a fan of another team coming onto another team's blog. It's the most ridiculous stupid thing ever. I've NEVER gone to another team's blog. Why? That's for them to discuss their team.

I guess these idiots feel like they can do it like they do it at the stadium. Well, unfortunately I don't live in S. Florida so can't represent on game days at the stadium, but I will definitely represent here, and protect THIS site from all the losers who come on here who aren't fans of this team. I don't back down from that, I'm not sorry about it, and if they don't like it, GO BACK TO YOUR OWN TEAM'S SITE YOU PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR HUMAN BEINGS!

But peace and love to all my fellow dolfans, just wanted to get that off my chest.

being positive doesnt make this team good. so keep up your rah rah bs but it wont matter.

Armando, I am very proud of you.

hey dusty, what's up man? Someone told me you were bill connors, is that true?

and armando doesnt really think the fins will win. but he did his job in getting some fools fired up for it thinking they will win now. great armando now u have some fans in here losing money on the game

"I am not a homer" lol

its a div game so i think miami can keep it close. but pats win 27-17. i think the ugly week will be the houston game, they always bury us. and after an 0-2 start with both losses at home this city will explode on the staff and henne.


I remember.

Preseason 2007 Mando predicted 10-6. He was off only by 9 games.

Anybody's prediction is no different than the prediction of a coin flip.

My useless prediction, Henne will try too hard and throw one too many picks, however many that will be.

Every prediction in the NFL is a coin flip FlyCo. Who thought the Browns would beat the Pats last year.


Don't know why people focus on that. Every year just about every playoff team loses a game to a bottom dweller. Every season. It happens. On any given Sunday.

miami is looking at an 0-5 start

One can not draw any conclusions from losing a game to a bottom dweller. Losing to a handful of bottom dwellers, like we did in 2010, is another story.


Finally a post that makes sense. I have been saying this for weeks. NE is the worst 14-2 team ever. The reason NE has been this successful for so many years is that they never beat themselves. As Dolphin fans, we have all seen this first hand.

The one thing I will absolutely disagree with is that NE will get better as the year goes on and be better than Miami. Really? The fact is Miami has just as much or more talent than both the Jets and NE. Why can't Miami improve to their potential?

Everyone is for a big surprise!!

Ballsy. Well done. Fingers crossed.

If Belichick(or anybody else for that matter) think they can garner information from some Posters here, weel, some comments here are true and some, not so true. We here are Masters of Deception, Belichick is nothing.

I hope to god you're right mando. Nothing will give me more pleasure than to see belicheat's face when he loses. It can be done. We've done it. put brady on his back soon and often and it can be done. Lets go phins!!

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