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Keys to the game: Dolphins vs. Patriots

I picked the Dolphins to beat the Patriots in Sunday's Miami Herald.

Simply, I think the loss of Rob Gronkowski is huge. I think Ryan Tannehill is playing well, as I predicted he would, in December. And I'm not sold on the New England run defense.

Consider:

When the Dolphins pass the football: In three career games against the Patriots, Ryan Tannehill has not been very good. He’s completed only 51.8 percent of his passes, has thrown three interceptions, fumbled twice and thrown two touchdowns. He’s also been sacked 16 times which, obviously, is only not solely his fault. The point is if the Dolphins are going to overcome the Beast in the AFC East, Tannehill has to step up his game. The Dolphins expect the Patriots to match Aqib Talib against Brian Hartline and then double and roll coverages with Alfonzo Dennard (if available) and others to Mike Wallace. The problem for New England, the NFL’s No. 16 team against the pass, is that tight end Charles Clay has come into his own and is now a primary weapon in the passing game. Clay had two TD catches last week against Pittsburgh. ADVANTAGE: Even.

When the Dolphins run the football: The Dolphins plowed both the Jets and Steelers running the ball the last two weeks and they are much better against the run than the Patriots. Truth is, practically everyone is better against the run than the Patriots because they lost run-stuff Vince Wilfork, who is out for the year, and they are also ranked 31st in the category among all NFL teams. The question for the Dolphins is not whether they’ll be able to run the football but rather do they have the patience and will to stick with the running game. The answer to that question this year has been sometimes yes, sometimes no, so there’s no telling which version of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman will show up to Sun Life on Sunday. ADVANTAGE: Dolphins.

When the Patriots run the football: If Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniel are smart, and they are, they will try to resolve their team’s 2013 penchant for sleepwalking through the first half of games by playing smash-mouth football against Miami. The Patriots are a good running team – a fact that gets lost in the giant shadow cast by quarterback Tom Brady. The offensive line is good and well coached. The stable of running backs is deep, assuming a couple don’t fumble and get benched for the whole game. And that is why the Pats are No. 13 in the NFL running the ball. The Dolphins are, shall we say, challenged in their run-stopping consistency. Teams have been able to find a soft middle often times this season. This despite the fact Randy Starks, Paul Soliai and Jared Odrick are all having solid seasons. ADVANTAGE: New England.

When the Patriots pass the football: The truth of the matter is the Patriots are lessened by the loss of Rob Gronkowski. Without Gronkowski in the lineup they score fewer points, throw for fewer yards, have less success on third down and in the red zone. And Gronk isn’t getting back in uniform anytime soon after blowing out a knee last week. Aaron Dobson also isn’t going to factor this game so Tom Brady will have to make due with mighty mites Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Kenbrell Thompkins, a South Floridian, is coming home but because he’s a rookie he does rookie things – which means he’s inconsistent. This group is not to be confused with the 2007 Patriots pass offense. The Dolphins are coming off a game where Ben Roethlisberger carved them up 328 passing yards and three touchdowns. But Brady doesn’t have the Steelers WR corps. ADVANTAGE: Even.

Special teams: Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis has missed a field goal in six of the Dolphins last eight games. The Dolphins are a better kickoff return team, the Patriots are a better punt return team. Brandon Fields has the advantage at punter but the Patriots do a better job on kickoffs and punt coverage. ADVANTAGE: Even.

Coaching: Joe Philbin has yet to beat Bill Belichick so that is a problem at the moment for the Dolphins. Interestingly, both men handle the press more or less in the same manner, which is to say, they hate them. But that’s where the comparisons kind of end. Belichick has a lot more experience, regular-season success and championships. ADVANTAGE: New England.

Comments

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Armando you have everything "pretty even-steven" their bud.

Could it be this game will end in tie?

First

Vontae is a probowl level CB, way better than Carroll. Be serious. Carroll wouldn't fetch more than a 6th round pick if that.

Posted by: Pay attention. | December 14, 2013 at 10:44 AM

You obviously don't watch a great deal of NFL Football or pay much attention! V.Davis the "SLACKER" with poor work ethic who shows up when he wants has once again reared his ugly head/side in Indy. In the course of this Season he has proved a liability more often then not for the Colts ending in a torching at the hands of Andy Dalton "The GREAT" (SARCASM!) in Indy's resent blowout loss not to mention his undressing in Arz. (also a blowout loss)

No doubt he physically has it to be a GREAT NFL player but he is of the INCONSISTENT bread we see often in this game. Perhaps paring him with a hard worker like Grimes may have done him some good but it would have come with problems along the way when the Coaches moved him from Left to Right trusting the more reliable but less athletically gifted little grader in Brent! Yes we could all have done without that ridiculous cushion he gave Steve Smith Vs. Car. which cost us the game on 4th & 10 but he also sealed the win in Indy with an endzone pick killing a drive and was lights out Vs. the Bengals and in a bunch of our games setting the tone like he did on his de-captitating hit of A.Brown last week in Pitt.

The "SLACKER" doesn't have that leader in him and when the D went limp he usually was one of it's main flatliners! Again if anything begin at least watching NFL Net's Primetime Show Sunday evenings so you can keep tabs on what's actually going on before posting! In summation N.Carroll (who by the way is our fastest player outside M.Wallace) may not be spectacular but has come a LOOOOOOONG WAY this Yr. He's turning and looking for the ball and his technique is greatly improved, I bet money we try and resign him unless another CB starved team like the Lions doesn't overpay and sign him away!

You heard it here 1st!!!!!

So, after this game our record should reflect 7-6-1.

Just wondering if 9-6-1 will get u the wildcard playoff spot?

The game tomorrow is just as HUGE for the Patriots as it is for the Dolphins. Because of the Broncos loss, the Patriots are now the 1st seed in the AFC and obviously they need to win to hold onto that. However, with a Patriot loss tomorrow, it will drop them to the 4th seed, as they would be tied with the Bengals, and the Bengals have the head to head tie breaker.

For our Dolphins, this game is so much more than just winning to stay in the playoff hunt. As the Patriots are likely going to be AFC East Champions, a win by the Dolphins tomorrow will keep from crowning the Patriots AFC East Champions on the Dolphins home field. So this game is HUGE for BOTH teams!

Posted by: dbmfins | December 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Posted by: fin4life | December 14, 2013 at 12:27 PM

I do not 2nd guess Ireland in the least for jettisoning Vontae off for the 2nd rd pick. Nice pick for a serious underachiever.

For once, Ireland was receiving, not giving, a tea bagging.

By the way in adding to my last post regarding V.Davis and the Colts (backing into the Post Season) is that if the Colts keep up their losing ways and we get into the Playoffs, then as the 6 seed we would play the 4 seed (lowest win record between Div. Champs) which is looking like the Colts with each passing game in a terrible Div. If it plays out (a possibility) then my money is on us. After that as the lowest at large team in the Plaoffs we get the #1 seed (the way the NFL formats the Playoffs with the winner of lowest seed game getting highest seed in Div. Rd)

It looks like that could be the Pats the way the Broncos are giving up points or maybe it ends up Denver but in any event win, lose or draw that's an invaluable scenario for our team to get in it's coming of age. Our core nucleus is young and getting that far today only hlps get them Playoff caliber Football ready going into the future!

Dolphins all day!!! This is our Sunday!!

For once, Ireland was receiving, not giving, a tea bagging.

Posted by: Sam I Am | December 14, 2013 at 12:34 PM

That was posted on the last blog and I had to respond to it because whoever posted it obviously hasn't been paying attention to his progress in Indy. If anything Sean Smith has been 100 times more steady in K.C. (If were making the argument!) I watch with curiosity to gauge how it ends up playing out for us. The pick for him was used last draft on J.Taylor so we'll see how the trade off goes in the next couple of Seasons.

Posted by: dbmfins | December 14, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Actually, I'm rooting for the Dolphins to win Sunday, but, still would like to see the Pats win home field throughout the Afc playoffs.

Should we make the playoffs, then catch fire, I much rather meet the Pats(Gillette) than Broncs(Mile High). The air gets awfully thin in Mile High.

Posted by: dbmfins | December 14, 2013 at 12:32 PM

I took into account your tie-breaker scenario but the Bengals have to go into Pitt. tomorrow night in the Primetime Sunday Night Showdown were the Steelers now out of the picture looking to play spoiler (and their Post Season game) We will see "IF" they are the Contender everybody thinks?

Speaking of ex-Dolphins corners, have you all noticed that Sean Smith has reverted back to his old self? He was downright horrible against the Broncos in both pass coverage and run defense in their last game. It was just a matter of time for both Smith and Davis - change of scenery only works for a while then all players just fall back into their old habits.

I'm still having to pinch myself over the fact, its the 3RD GAME OF DECEMBER, and there's playoff talk involving our Dolphins.

Last time this happened was 2008. Its now 2013. This team is slightly less experienced, but, overall a little more talented than that team led by Pennington.

Many of the guys on todays team have yet to peak in their potential. It's like the build up before the volcano erupting. Smoking and rumbling, with soon coming fire!

Should we make the playoffs, then catch fire, I much rather meet the Pats(Gillette) than Broncs(Mile High). The air gets awfully thin in Mile High.

Posted by: Sam I Am | December 14, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Everybody is talking about the Broncos D and pinning their slide on the DB's with Champ's career in the rear view but in watching I believe one of the keys to the slide is the play up front with Kevin Vickerson's Season ending injury (a Saban 7th Rd'er in 05 for Miami) You add the loss of Dumerville and the fact it's obvious Von Miller has been playing hurt since their game Vs. the Pats and they have to bring up what looks to me like the most undersized LB's in the NFL. Travathan and Company can be run on! If the Guards can get to the 2nd level which they have with the short handed DL the Broncos are fielding. They are then forced to play man on the back end with a rookie Nickle back and Nick Harris Jr. as the RCB! Really only DRC as their LCB can go man. When they go into a cover-2 they have another liability in Ihenacho their S.S. who alot like Y.Bell who played for us is basically a small LB on the back end with suspect cover skills as P.Rivers exposed last Thursday. The reality is that the AFC is real weak outside of a great O in Denver. The NFC Championship IMO will be the S.B. this Yr. (unless Peyton catches fire in the extreme weather S.B. or Brady somehow gets in were he's money in those games)

Ravens hold our playoff fate in their hands. Still we hold our future in our own hands. Therefore, would love to see Fins "WIN_OUT" regardless of what the Ravens do.

Though a Ravens loss would be so ever sweet frosting on the cake.

Philbin has too be very aggressive in this one. One more 50 yard FG attempts on 4th and 1 or 2.

We also have to convert on those short yardage situations. Thill can sneak for a few of those, r run option. Its the big decider for us.

If we do get the lead, they Coyle has to ditch the prevent zone, with 4 rushing Brady, we will get killed.

Posted by: MassDolphan | December 14, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Agreed! I thought the talk early last Off-Season of giving Sean Smith (who was run over by Moreno on the goal line Vs. Denver) a 6 Mil per contract with guarantee's the most INSANE talk of the Blogs!

Posted by: fin4life | December 14, 2013 at 12:58 PM


Going into the 2nd week now, I've been posting ALL of the potential AFC playoff teams have WARTS. These playoffs are about as good as it gets, as far ANY AFC TEAM has of making it to the playoffs.

Regardless or record, I believe the team that gets "HOTTEST" in the Afc playoffs, will be the AFC's representative in the next coming SB.

Posted by: Marco | December 14, 2013 at 01:01 PM

Success on "short yardage" situations greatly hinge on the continued progress of this offensive line.

Also, much of this can be alleviated with more success on 1st and 2nd downs. Beit run or pass.

Perfect scenario would be to pick up a hefty bundle of our 1st downs, on 1st and 2nd downs. Keeping the 3rd down conversions to a minimum.

Maybe the greatest thing about these Afc playoffs and field full of warts, every fan of all of these teams, feels their team has a legit shot to get to the SB.

Their isn't one clear cut dominant team in the entire field. Even Denver comes in with serious chinks in the armor. Add this too, Peyton Manning, does not have even close to a sterling playoff record.

Even though he's been to 2 SB's, the greatest chink in Manning's armor has always been the playoffs. Take away the one SB he won, then Peyton's literally "Dan Marino" come playoff time.

I say go all out pressure, ALL OUT, on Brady in the first quarter. Set the tone. Beat him up. Risk some big plays while we still have time. Shake his bones! Make him paranoid. Will it be Wake? Starks? Odrick? Vernon? Jordon? Shelby? Reshard? Whoa that is too much to account for if we LET IT RAIN!

Perfect scenario would be to pick up a hefty bundle of our 1st downs, on 1st and 2nd downs. Keeping the 3rd down conversions to a minimum.

Posted by: Sam I Am | December 14, 2013 at 01:14 PM

This is like saying the perfect scenario would be that the cutest girl at the beach follows you home for some frolicking.

Regardless or record, I believe the team that gets "HOTTEST" in the Afc playoffs, will be the AFC's representative in the next coming SB.

Posted by: Sam I Am | December 14, 2013 at 01:06 PM

ALA last Yrs. Ravens were everybody was more or less in the same boat as this Yr. but I don't see a Ravens 2012 in this AFC bunch this Yr. Sam. Unless somebody shocks the Football World and goes into Seattle and wins I feel the Hawks D and their ability to run with Beastmode and Okung back in the fold will be to much for the weak AFC D's.

I already hear it, "run the ball".

Screw running the ball.

Throw out of the run option set on first down.

Throw on first down anytime they load the box.

Belichick will beat you if he knows what you are going to do. You may run on them for awhile[last game] but he will come up with a way to stop it if you are one dimensional or if he knows what is coming.

In the last game, we ran the ball on every first down of the second half except the last series when they knew we had to pass. If we do that again, we will lose again.

Vontae has been inconsistent like he was for us. Great game against the Broncos. Terrible games against the Rams, Texans, and Bengals. I'll be interested to see if he gets re-signed by then in the offseason.

Smith has been good for KC. I think he is better served as the number 2 corner and in the man coverage scheme over there.

Does anybody seriously believe that Miami can go to....ohhh lets see....Cincy....or Indy...hmmm NE.....gee Denver and win all these away playoff games??? I am as much a fan as the next Dolfan...but ahhhh lets be real here!

Sam,

Thats what all teams look for Im sure.

We face an average of 13 3rd downs a game this season.

With so many passes being 4-5 yards we will always have those 3rd and shorts. I agree that we have to take more chances in this game, but it depends on how we run on the Pats and how our D plays.

Philbin always tries to keep games close. This can be a problem if its a straight 2 minute drill battle between Brady and Thill.

All the chances have to be taken, its balls that will win this game, not conservative football.

Are we healthy on defense? It seems like well over half the players have a groin injury.

You are the type of people who drink Bud Lite and think dinner at TGI Fridays constitutes a fancy night out.

Drones.

In the last game, we ran the ball on every first down of the second half except the last series when they knew we had to pass. If we do that again, we will lose again.

Posted by: EVERYBODY KNOWS | December 14, 2013 at 01:28 PM

I must admit the predictable play calling had me going absolutely CRAZY until recently. We gave the Steelers enough that play action was getting them in the 2nd half and IMO the key to our ability to score go ahead points in the 4th. I suspect Sherman (who is fighting to keep his job because Ireland will FIRE him regardless of his history with Philbin) knows this better than any of us. I would be SHOCKED if were that vanilla especially this late in the YR.!

You are the type of people who drink Bud Lite and think dinner at TGI Fridays constitutes a fancy night out.

Posted by: Looks Down At You | December 14, 2013 at 01:40 PM

Me too. Always been a Bud man. TGI Fridays rocks! Don't miss their wings!

I am a realist. Im happy the Dolphins have gotten better...that Tannehill seems to be getting better each week....that the team is learning to win....making the playoffs is important to get a taste of that success and make these guys hungry for next year. But all that said the reality is the Dolphins could just as easily lose all 3 games as well as win all 3 games. WE were 3-0 to start then lost 4 straight and since we have won 2 straight on the road against questionable teams. Teams we are more talented than. I REFUSE to allow this years team to set me up for the big heartbreak......it has happened way too many times.

We all suspect they've been hiding things on offense, but we don't really know. If they got anything to show, I expect to see it early and often.


Sparano unleashed the WC. What does Philbin have? If Sparano can catch Belichek off guard, anyone can.

You drink flavored water that has been sitting around gathering dust for months and eat oversalted, high caloric junk that cam out of a bag and sat congealing under a heat lamp while your underpaid server was busy delivering "drinks" that appeal to a 12-year-old mentality.

Congratulations.

Looks Down At You | December 14, 2013 at 01:47 PM

And they show the games too! It's a great spot. Great minds think alike!

This years team with all there warts.....does not deserve the benefit of my doubt. Lets be happy with a strong finish. The team has improved this year. Tannehill has gotten better. We are close to becoming a very good team. $39million in cap space....a new OC maybe DC and next year should be a lot of fun.

I wet myself.hehe,and I like it,hehe

Bill, you seem like a nice guy but in all honesty how do you "refuse" to let the outcome of the season affect your emotions?

You can really only accomplish that by completely detaching yourself from the games and watching dispassionately with no interest whatsoever in the outcome...or by not watching at all and doing something else for those three hours.

Sounds good in theory but I don't believe a word of it. If you will be watching the games and actively wishing for the Dolphins to succeed then by definition you are emotionally invested in the outcome.

OOOOOPS!, My drawers are soiled again.hehe.and I like it.hehe

Posted by: Looks Down At You


You must look down at yourself too if you are spending your Saturday on a blog of people you look down on.

Does anybody seriously believe that Miami can go to....ohhh lets see....Cincy....or Indy...hmmm NE.....gee Denver and win all these away playoff games??? I am as much a fan as the next Dolfan...but ahhhh lets be real here!

Posted by: Bill Arnsparger | December 14, 2013 at 01:34 PM

Bill you know I have much respect for your posts, your of the knowledgeable informed fans (aside from taking one of the more original screen names of past team glory) So while I'm not drinking any Kool-Aid on were this teams progress is at I do believe that "IF" we get into the tournament and end up playing a 4th seeded Indy (backing into the Playoffs like the once 10-0 but ending in 10-6 Jets did in the 80's, a little blast from the past for ya!) then I really like our chances to get to the Divisional Rd. of the Playoffs.

The deal for T.Richardson is so far blowing up in Indy's face they would have been better served trading a 2 for LT Alberts in all honesty and moving the under-achieving Costanzo to RT. They can't block a lick and with Reggie (should get a bonus in 2014 even at 35) Wayne shelved you roll coverage at Hilton and basically tie Luck's hands! We know their D can be scored on and has been absolutely torched in the last month by the likes of QB's like Fitz in Tenn.

They are a Match-up dream for Philbin and Co. to get our 1st Playoff win in over a decade. This of course if we can get in which as a team they still need to prove to themselves before anybody else. That said I don't believe we can win in RD-2 but getting there would be invaluable to helping shape our very young core for the next decade. By the way I mentioned the 86 (I believe it was that Yr.) Jets because they backed in as AFC Champs in shambles and I see a very similar scenario (an anomaly in the NFL for Div. winner) in the train wreck ending the Colts are showing.

Analyze a terrible OL, no dimensional deep threat and bad run game with suspect D and they're a qualifying pretender IMO!

hehe.I'm a PATHETIC RETARD who has nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon.hehe
But Cuban Menace is just as big of a RETARD.hehe

I'd have no expectation of Miami really doing much (if any) damage in the playoffs but still think it would benefit this YOUNG team to get there and have a taste of it. They need to develop the mentality where getting to the playoffs is a NORMAL part of the season and the confidence that they belong in that group.

Walt of course I will be watching and hoping they win but in the past It would leave me feeling sick when they lost. Now I just move on....you know why???

Back in the late 80's to mid 90's I worked for MNF. I used to watch the players on the losing team be unaffected by what just occurred on the field. They would be laughing, hugging the guy they just battled. Yet I would be physically feeling sick....certainly didn't want to laugh and catch up with the opposition.

Then to take it one step further. I was a die hard, season ticket holder for the NY Mets...abused for many years. 1986 they finally won a World Series. You know what I got for all the years of crying, fretting, hoping, wishing and dying with each loss.....A FRIGGIN T-SHIRT that said World Series Champions!! What Im trying to say is that after you win it all there is nothing left....except doing it again and being able to buy another T-Shirt!!

fin

You forgot to mention that right now, today, 2013: Tanne > Luck.

You are the type of people who drink Bud Lite and think dinner at TGI Fridays constitutes a fancy night out.

Posted by: Looks Down At You | December 14, 2013 at 01:40 PM

Me too. Always been a Bud man. TGI Fridays rocks! Don't miss their wings!

Posted by: Alan | December 14, 2013 at 01:41 PM


TGI Fridays is great! I've also been known to drink domestic beer and eat wings at Hooters, so what's your point!

fin

You forgot to mention that right now, today, 2013: Tanne > Luck.

Posted by: Bodine | December 14, 2013 at 02:03 PM

If anything with a BAD OL in front of him and NO real help at the skills Pos. were getting a sampling of what life looks like even for the most talented of young QB's.

fin4life I did not take my name it was given to me by my Dad. Im Greg William...not THE Bill Arnsparger. Dad was a huge fan and had a sense of humor!!
As for the team....making the playoffs, at this point, is of paramount importance. I agree with everything your post said with the exception of the Dolphins being able to win a playoff game this year. I wholly disagree. You point out the warts on the Colts taem and they are correct....however we too have many warts. If the game were in Miami I would say YES we can beat the Colts....but not in Indy in January.

Hooters?? Nice cleavage but the food there is Taco Bell with a liquor license.

And to be honest being surrounded by a bunch of bro d-bags who don't know how to drink and can't complete a sentence without saying "dude" or "rad" every other word sounds about as enticing as a Pauly Shore retrospective.

I'll pass, thanks.

By the end of next season, the RG3 craze will be fully over. They will be calling the trade up a bust move. Nobody will be ever saying again that Tannehill was a reach at 8.

Bodine RG3 was like every other run first QB....they never make it in the NFL. RG3 is basically a hard working Jamarcus Russell....in fact the Raiders love his type and would most likely give the Redskins 2 number 1's for him right now!!

Posted by: Looks Down At You | December 14, 2013 at 02:12 PM

I guess you are here because you can't get the attention of anyone you look up to. Apparently they.....Looks Down At You.

I can understand why.

Belicheat as we all know is nearly impossible for our coaching staff to out coach and beat.He always makes great adjustments throughout the game.Philbin will ignore whatever belicheat comes up with and go to prevent defense to prevent us from winning.Our offense will continue to be predictable and shoot itself in the foot as usual.I can only hope that I am incorrect and our coaches and players will play smart football for a change of pace.GOPHINS

Look at Kaepernick this year....another run first QB that has fallen flat as usual.
Mark my words if Wilson ever has to play a full playbook instead of the watered down playbook he uses he too will fall flat. This is the NFL run first, option type QB's just don't make it....right Mr. Vick!!

It's the QB STUPID Eh?

Go away idiot there are no Canadians here today. EH

Bill, Wilson throws the ball really well. Can't argue with how Carroll is bringing him along. He is the only one to back up his fine rookie year.

.A FRIGGIN T-SHIRT that said World Series Champions!! What Im trying to say is that after you win it all there is nothing left....except doing it again and being able to buy another T-Shirt!!

Posted by: Bill Arnsparger | December 14, 2013 at 02:02 PM

Aside from the biggest collection of drug addicts outside of the 92-93 Cowboys! Bill I have a question for you are you from Queens?? I have alot of Family in Corona and get out there every Yr.

I can understand why.

Posted by: Bodine | December 14, 2013 at 02:18 PM

Well said!

Bodine they all throw the ball really well...and Carroll is not bringing him alng the way Philbin is bringing Tannehill along. Wilson is using a watered down version of the playbook because he cannot grasp the full playbook. Defenses will study this and shut it down.

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