Overall the Patriots have won the last five games vs the Dolphins, and in the Tom Brady era Miami is a putrid 2-9 in New England (0-1 at Foxboro Stadium and 2-8 at Gillette Stadium which is the site of this game). In his career Brady has 37 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, and his overall record is 15-6 vs Miami.
2012 has seen the usual massive season from Brady. He will finish in the top five for every passing category. Tom Terrific will be facing what appears to be a very banged up secondary. Starting cornerbacks Sean Smith and Nolan Carroll are dealing with wonky knees, and safeties Reshad Jones (hip) and Chris Clemons (ankle) are also among the walking wounded that have been limited at practice this week. Not exactly the recipe to beat the Brady Bunch (for the article on the banged-up secondary CLICK HERE).
The Dolphins are ranked #25 overall vs the pass, but Brady did have his worst game of the season in that week 13 meeting.
Rob Gronkowski may play, but even if he waits until the playoffs to return NE still has ex-Dolphin Wes Welker who averages a whopping 108 receiving yards vs his former team. Welker has made his fifth straight Pro Bowl this season as Brady-to-Welker continues to roll up video game numbers. Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd are also clear threats in this Pats passing attack which is ranked #4 overall.
Cameron Wake has a whopping 11.5 of his 15 sacks on the road. If he is reeking havoc then we know the Pats will use the quick-hitters and the underneath routes with Welker quite frequently. (Article on Wake making the Pro Bowl is HERE)
The Pats also have the #8 ranked running game in the NFL. Stevan Ridley has just under 1,200 rushing yards, and he has a whopping 75 rushing first downs (Miami as a team has 89…Reggie Bush has 40). Ridley is tied for 5th best in the NFL with 10 rushing touchdowns.
On defense Vince Wilfork is awesome. Jarod Mayo is really good. The Patriots are ranked #12 overall vs the run. Bush needs 40 yards for his 2nd straight 1,000 yard rushing season. On the season Bush averages 15 carries for 64 yards. Amazingly that was his exact production vs the Pats in week 13 as he had 15 carries for 64 yards (for article on Bush’s impending free-agency CLICK HERE)
Ryan Tannehill has not had much production in his rookie season, but of late he has been much better. As the calendar turned to December Tannehill was at just seven touchdowns and a dozen interceptions, but this month he has been significantly more productive. He did fumble twice vs the Patriots (losing one of those) to open December, but other than that he has six touchdowns (five passing and one rushing) and zero interceptions this month.
Some may want to point out that his best December games have come vs the lowly Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, but I am of the opinion that it is not Tanny’s responsibility/job to ensure there is adequate/good competition. His job is to do what he can in his role as Dolphins quarterback to contribute to Dolphins victories. Period. So I give him full marks for his recent play. Surely this game is a massive test as Brady vs Tannehill has the potential to be one-sided.
The Patriots need to win to secure the #3 seed in the AFC, and if they win and either of the Houston Texans or Denver Broncos lose then the Pats would leap back into a top-2 seed which would mean they are off for wild-card weekend. Bill Belichick is not a guy who will rest players, plus the Pats have a ton that they can accomplish with a victory so I certainly anticipate a great game from them on Sunday
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