Week 14 Preview: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

Just survive and advance.

The New England Patriots (10-2) head to a place that they have had trouble in the past, as Tom Brady is just 7-8 in his career as a visitor to the Miami Dolphins (5-7).

The teams played just two weeks ago, with the Patriots coming out on top by a score of 35-17.

As expected, the team will be wary of wide receiver Jarvis Landry, something fans may have seen first hand as New England head coach Bill Belichick was mic’d up and was constantly looking for him on the field.

This will probably not be a problem for them, but it’s important for the team to not lose focus because of the highly anticipated match up with the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday that will more than likely determine who has home field throughout the playoffs in the AFC. Even though this game technically does not mean much in the grand scheme of things considering the supremacy in the conference will still come down to the head-to-head meeting next week, the one silver lining for winning tonight will be if the Patriots come out on top against the Steelers, they can essentially rest the last week of the season.

While tight end Rob Gronkowski will not be able to suit up due a one-game suspension, the team is welcoming wide receiver Chris Hogan back after a four-week absence due to a shoulder injury. Hogan’s re-emergence in the offense should help mitigate the loss of the All-Pro tight end. Also, it will be good for Hogan to get some experience before facing Pittsburgh, while simultaneously giving Gronkowski a week off for rest.

As far as the game plan goes, not much has changed, just keep Brady upright against the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, and James White should see action out of the slot like always. It will be interesting to see how much they will use tight end Dwayne Allen in the passing game, as he is primarily known as more of a blocker in this offense, but Brady may have no choice but to look his way with Gronkowski out.

Defensively, the team has to prepare for the likes of Jay Cutler, who the team did not see in its first meeting. While Cutler has been known to have a rocket arm, he is prone to mistakes, something the team will exploit. Even with the reliable Kyle Van Noy out with a calf injury, this team should be fine, especially with the increased play in the secondary with Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler.

The game doesn’t have to be pretty, just grind out a victory and keep everyone healthy for next week.

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Follow O'Callaghan on Twitter: @JOCallaghan_ENT

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