The Miami Dolphins face the New England Patriots in Week 15 at 8-5 and in control of their playoff destiny.
Miami Dolphins (8-5) vs New England Patriots (6-7)
Sunday Dec. 20th, 1PM EST
Line: Dolphins -2.5
For the changing of the guard in the AFC East to be complete the Patriots must be eliminated from playoff contention outright, even though Buffalo has nearly clinched the division.
The Dolphins are just a slight favorite despite a better record and being at home. Both teams are in vastly positions after New England beat Miami convincingly 21-11 in Week 1. Cam Newton has struggled and the Dolphins’ defense has become one of the best in the league.
XAVIEN HOWARD IS UNREAL
FIFTH STRAIGHT GAME WITH A PICK 💪
— ESPN (@espn) December 13, 2020
Newton has just five touchdown passes against 10 interceptions but his 11 rushing scores are tied for the second highest total in the NFL. In Week 1 Newton was very efficient through the air completing 15-of-19 passes for 165 yards. However it was on the ground where Newton did his most damage with 15 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
tua had a career day completing 28/48 passes for 316 yards and 3 TOTAL touchdowns vs KC.
— josh houtz (@houtz) December 19, 2020
Miami is playing much better on both sides of the ball and since Tua Tagovailoa took over at quarterback they are limiting mistakes with the football. Ryan Fitzpatrick started under center in Week 1 and threw three interceptions without a touchdown. Conversely Tua has so far thrown just one pick in seven starts.
New England is the 5th best rushing team in the NFL entering Week 15 averaging 147.5 yards per game, while Miami’s defense ranks 21st in the league allowing 120.2 yards per game. Where Miami excels is in pass coverage and their 16 interceptions are second in the NFL. Xavien Howard leads the NFL with nine picks and has firmly entered the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. Newton will be without wide receiver Julian Edelman which gives him even fewer weapons.
Julian Edelman will not return to action Sunday in the Patriots’ game against the Dolphins. https://t.co/oysirZKwgy
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) December 19, 2020
Miami will need to be careful as New England still has a solid defense led by Stephon Gilmore, they are right behind the Dolphins with 15 interceptions. Tua will need to take what the defense gives him, and if Mike Gesicki and Devante Parker can go that will give the offense a huge boost.
The Dolphins need to find a running game to help Tua against a tough New England defense, and Bill Belichick will try to take away anything easy. New England’s run defense is worse than Miami’s, ranking 23rd allowing 124 yards-per-game. If Miami can run the ball in this one it bodes well for success to close out the season.
I predict Miami will finally get the ground game going and control a fairly low scoring game. The Dolphins’ defense can force Newton into mistakes and I see that trend continuing in this matchup. Field position will be critical and the Dolphins have perhaps the best kicker and special teams in the NFL.
That could make the difference in a close game.
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Patriots 20