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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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Pats 37
Fins 16

I have zero confidence in the QB, HC, GM and Owner. The team will collapse just like a cheap camera. Once the Pats get ahead and backs off the robot and D will look like Superbowl champs. i hope Belichick runs the score up so that Soprano gets fired and Henne is benched like last year.

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

this is easier said than done. I hope we can accomplish it.

All this procrastinating is fine and well. Predictions are part of the fun of it. But....

Just remember , when the season is over, whatever the won - loss numbers....you are what your record says you are.

No excuses.

Also, I HOPE Belichick runs the score up but Belichick is way to intelligent to screw himself. He will keep it close as for the Pats, it's much better keeping Soprano as HC as they know it's a sure sweep.

NYG, YOU SEME TO BE A TROLL,WHAT SAY YOU ABOUT THESE CHARGE,ALSO,WHAT WILL YUO BE DINER ON GAME NITE?

I wish all the pigs and trolls on this board would go back up north.
This is a Dolphin board. Go home AND STFU!

you people talking about the lions beatin ne so bad..... heres a news flash the lions have been getting high draft picks for 10 yrs they are going to shock the nfl this yr. the Dolphins starters have only gone up against one pro caliber starting unit this pre season. It was in Atlanta. It was a mismatch. To all you people predicting a surprise phins team this year? Im really looking forward to some crow.. I hope you all just rub my face in it if the fins go to the playoffs

SS says we are resigning LJ? is this true? I hope not.

I enjoyed reading Armando's column. He brings up some good things that point to this being a close game. Sparano and the team have a lot invested in this game. It's almost like a mini-Super Bowl for them, because a win will ramp up the enthusiasm. There's no doubt that Miami will do everything they can to win this game.

That being said, the problems on the offensive line and running game, the secondary's inability to create TO's and hold on to interceptions and Brady's ability to carve up the middle of this defense will lead to a 3 point loss.

My hope is that the team will not be too deflated and will be able to put this aside and get ready for Houston. In my mind, Houston is a must win. Going 0-2 (at home) will be devastating to this team's psyche. For the record, I have us 1-4 after the first five games. It's a shame, because we should be better, but the right side of the OL will cost us dearly, especially early in the season. After Columbo and Carey cost us a few games, Sparano will be force to act and we'll improve once we get better at RG and RT.

I hope Daboll will be patient and let Henne work the short to intermediate passes. And I'm ok with the check down when it's to the right personnel, which I think we have now.

The 49'ers used to destroy & demoralize defenses with the check down (it's called dink & dunk when you're good at it).

Things I don't want to see on the first drive:
1. Gates overthrown on the token fly.
2. The end around.
3. The bubble screen.
4. Dropped passes
5. False starts, Holding
6. 3 & out.

If the fins are an attacking offense, then they need to attack. Go towards the end zone (the one that's worth 7 points), not away from it.

Used to watch Ricky & Ronnie run 50 yards sideline to sideline to pick up 1 or 2. Screw that.

I hope to see Thomas get 4 to 5 yards a whack, look for it to happen as the game gets into the 3rd/4th quarters.

I believe it can happen


I beg to differ with Armando. I believe Bush can be an effective 13-15 cpg rb behind a zone blocking scheme. Its what he'll be doing when not being used in the run game(passing game) that's going to give nfl defenses thier greatest fits.

I suggest Armando reference back to how Peyton Hillis was used in DaBoll's offense in 2010. Though maybe not quite as powerful as Hillis, Bush is far and away more dynamic.

He wont be used like a traditional inbetween the tackle runner though he will get carries inbetween the tackles.

Pats will win a close one. Yes they have flaw but we do too, one of the biggesy being we just make too many mental mistakes and give up too many big plays. I sense it will be a frustrating night for our guys and we'll end up handing it to the Pats.

ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Armando's trying to jump the fast sinking loserville ship without totally admitting to it. Yeah right, Armando, wink...wink... you just all of a sudden think the Patsies are ripe for upset. LOL...

You have every right to call me a troll or whatever pleases you... I been a Dolphin fan since the AFL to NFL merger of which most of you name callers weren't even considered to be born.

I been through it all and will call it like I see it. I seen them all from the best to the worst so please excuse me for wanting this organization to fail and fail EARLY so that we can purge the team of all the hopefuls that think THIS IS THE YEAR...

I want a SB win and I don't want to waste any more time with this diaper HC and Staff. The entire staff and QB are what they are which are nothings. The HC and GM were rewarded for back to back losing seasons. If you have confidence in them,, so be it and enjoy and keep hope just as I have for years. there comes a time when to recognize the team for what it is.

Purge the team of all the coaches GM and bring in real proven leaders who know how to win. I been through all the rest and some of the best. i sure don't enjoy going through the crap that we were provided by Parcells and company.

Enjoy the season.

db,he needs blog hits.lol

No way the Pats win Monday night. Replacing Crowder with Burnett was a huge defensive key. It allows Nolan to apply more pressure on qb's without creating a great liability in underneath coverage.

Burnett has great coverage range. During preseasonI witnessed with my own eyes his pass coverage range extending into db coverage territory. Good luck to TE's trying to out run him.

NYG,

You arent a troll. You're just a whiney little b1tcha*ss fake ninny fan. Keep crying yourself a poor me river. If we're all lucky enough we also get to see you hot pink a*ss drown in it too.

NYG,

Shake that rattle baby! Your pacifier's on the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL...

Great Post Armando. Actually predicting the Phins pull off the upset! Going out on a limb in front of your Colleagues, you Da Man!

I'm not sure if that makes you a Homer or not, but don't worry, In my book you've ALWAYS been a Homer ;)

By the way, can you call your colleagues up in Boston and have them remind Bellicheat to take his blood pressre medications Monday Night. I want him to survive the UPSET just long enough to witness the SWEEP!

ValHalla!!!!

Mando, put down your Whoppers and stop eating empty carbs. Eat proteins: Meat and Veggies. The poundage will melt off you.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xfjc34_how-to-lose-weight-fast-strategy-from-certified_school

The last time I saw the Dolphins play the Patriots live was in Foxboro when the Wildcat was introduced. I was one of a handful of Dolphin fans there and took more abuse than should be humanly possible. You should have seen the yappy Pats fans rushing out of the building after the 3rd quarter, it was awesome. And suddenly they weren't laughing at my Dolphins anymore, they were moaning about their own team. Anyway, I hope for:
Henne to play better than he did last year(which he looks like he did in pre-season),
a few sneaky new plays,
a kickoff return for a TD by Livas,
a rushing TD by Bush,
a 50 yd TD by Brandon Marshall,
4 Brady sacks combined between Wake and Taylor,
very few penalties,
and above average play from special teams. This should guarantee us a win.

Faithful Dolphin fan from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Livas was cut. He's now in the UFL with the Omaha Nighthawks.

Yes, we beat NE and I also predict JT strips and/or recovers a fumble maybe for a TD.

I'm a little slow on the Dolphin news here up in Canada. Livas was the best kick returner we have seen in years and they cut him. I did not see that coming. I guess the 1st kickoff return for a TD in years can't secure you a job.
P.S. I hope you fellow fans don't object to me being from Canada(like the jerk that mumbled as he walked by that we should go back to where we came from as he saw my little girl had a Canada loves Miami Dolphins sign when we were at Sunlife Stadium)
I let it slide as I was with the family and he was at least a Dolphin fan.

Ugh, I hate living here in MA!!! the anxiety of this game is getting to me. I feel like the lone wolf, I know some of you know how I feel.

I am very excited for Henne this year and think he will be great, only pronlem with that is this o-line and the fact that columbo is starting. I really think this year is all about the o-line.

With all that said, maybe because of where I live, I do not see the phins having great odds to win the game. Only because the D, although good, really could not get off the field last year on 3rd down, and we could not cover a tight end. I am not sure how our D is any better at this this year.

I still think 10-6 is a stretch possibility, but this game just does not have a good feel to me. God I hope I am wrong!

And if they lose, Mando will write a scathing piece on how the team let him down, again.

Such a weird, fragile little ego on this "writer" who, like Tom Crusie, needs to come out of the closet.

Great article Mando

Wow Mando! Great analysis! May be your best article yet!

The English language is simply not powerful enough to describe the sheer depth of delusion in this thread.

Hello?

Patriots 834, Fins 6

"If I am, indeed, wrong, get over it!"

Lol, gotta get a better cop-out than that, Mandy.

you make a prediction..
yet back peddle the whole
tme?

Good stuff. Phins have great defense this year and shook it up a little bit on offense. I look for a 31-13 victory for Brady and company. Way too many weapons and a re-vitalized defense. Good luck this year. I hope you guys absolutely crush the Jets and make wild card...I hate the Jets!

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