Week 15 Preview: New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphinsby Jeff Pratt December 18, 2020 2 comments
When the New England Patriots (6-7) and Miami Dolphins (8-5) met back in Week 1, the Patriots emerged victorious and inspired confidence in fans that Cam Newton could be the answer after Tom Brady’s departure. Fast forward to the present, and New England has virtually fallen out of the postseason race. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are clinging on to a playoff spot for dear life with Baltimore right on their tail. As a result, this week’s game will have major playoff implications.
Entering this game, New England is coming off an embarrassing 24-3 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams’ pass rush repeatedly swarmed Cam Newton, forcing the former MVP to make multiple mistakes, including a costly pick-six in the second quarter. Newton finished with 135 total yards and was pulled in the fourth quarter for sophomore Jarrett Stidham.
Damien Harris was effective in limited chances, racking up 50 yards on 11 carries. N’Keal Harry also showed flashes of potential, leading New England in receiving yards with 49 on three catches. Overall though, it was a discouraging performance for the Patriots that largely sums up their underwhelming 2020 season.
The Dolphins enter this week coming off a 33-27 loss against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Miami jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, before the Chiefs went on a 30-3 run over the next two quarters. Rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa played well, throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns. The Dolphins’ offense simply could not keep pace with the Chiefs, a task that few teams in the NFL are capable of. On the bright side, aside from allowing 30 points in the second and third quarters, Miami picked off MVP frontrunner Patrick Mahomes three times. If they are to capitalize on Newton’s mistakes in a similar manner, the Dolphins could run away with this game easily.
For the Patriots, the key to winning this game is simple: avoid turnovers. Mahomes may be able to throw three interceptions and come away with the win, but Newton and this lackluster New England offense will not survive a multi-turnover game. As for the Dolphins, they need to establish the run early and often. New England boasts a tough secondary that consists of reigning DPOY Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson, but their run defense is abysmal. If Miami can pound the ball and keep their offense on the field, they will win.
Regarding injuries, both teams are relatively healthy. New England running backs Damien Harris and James White have been limited in practice, but both are expected to play as of now. The Patriots may be without offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor, while the Dolphins will likely not have running back Myles Gaskin (COVID-19). Salvon Ahmed is trending towards returning, which would certainly lighten the blow of losing Gaskin from Miami’s backfield.
Date: December 20, 2020
Start Time: 1:00 P.M. EST
Location: Miami, FL
Stadium: Hard Rock Stadium
TV Info: CBS
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Point Spread: NE +1.5 (-110) | MIA -1.5 (-110)
Moneyline: NE +100 | MIA -130
Over/Under: O 41.5 (-110) | U 41.5 (-110)
As a potential bettor, the spread is so tight that it makes the moneyline almost irrelevant. This game likely won’t be that close, as Miami is trending in the right direction — despite last week’s loss — while New England is a train wreck of late, so taking Miami -1.5 is the right move. Regarding the total, theoretically the over would hit if Miami and New England both scored 21 points. However, neither team has been able to break that threshold in three of their last four games. Therefore, taking the under seems logical here.
Miami controls their own playoff destiny, and have won two of their last three contests. The Patriots have struggled to find their identity, an objective that likely won’t be accomplished with Cam Newton under center. Brian Flores will best former mentor Bill Belichick in this matchup and the Dolphins will swim away victorious.
Final Score: New England Patriots 10, Miami Dolphins 21
Follow Jeff Pratt on Twitter @HotlineFantasy
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