NFL betting action commences this week with a great duel to analyze between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. Check out the three biggest keys to the game that these teams must overcome in order to pick up the ‘W’ this weekend.
Key #1: The Pats Have to Find an Answer to Miami’s Ground Game: It is probably more important for New England to try to figure out how to stop the run than it is for the Fins to actually be successful at it. We all know that the Dolphins are ultimately going to be deploying RB Ricky Williams and RB Ronnie Brown all game long in an effort to keep QB Tom Brady and his Brady Bunch off the field, but that isn’t the only way that they can move the ball. Without stopping the run though, Brady won’t ever touch the field. Remember the Monday Night Football showdown last year in Miami when the Fins nearly held a 2:1 time of possession ratio on the Indianapolis Colts and still lost? If New England ends up in that boat this year, it is in a ton of trouble. The Pats rank 20th in the NFL through three games, averaging allowing 119.0 yards per game on the ground.
Key #2: Brady Has to Use a Short Passing Game to Open Up the Deep Stuff: This is sort of up there with the whole keeping control of the football thing. Brady is one of these quarterbacks that isn’t afraid to use short passes as if they were runs, and he has all of the targets necessary to do just that. WR Wes Welker is Exhibit A in this case, man that has 18 catches, the majority of which are caught within five yards of the line of scrimmage. There really aren’t any running backs that HC Bill Belichick is going to be comfortable relying on, and with the Dolphins sending blitz after blitz with their 3-4 ‘D’, New England is going to want to try to slow things down. One and three step drops will make the difference and frustrate this Miami defense, as was shown by the New York Jets last week. When things opened up a little bit, New York hit three huge pass plays in the second half that helped propel it to a win. The Pats need to use that exact same strategy to knock off the Fins in Miami.
Key #3: Miami Needs To Play as if Its Season Depended On It: And it does. Not only would a loss to the Pats drop Miami to 0-2 at home in divisional play this year, but it would leave a very sour taste in its mouth with back to back losses on primetime football at home going into its bye. After the bye week, the Dolphins have the following… @ Green Bay, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Cincinnati, @ Baltimore, vs. Tennessee, vs. Chicago… Oh, and that doesn’t include the games in New York and New England in the winter when the temperature is certain to be significantly below freezing. This isn’t a game that Miami can afford to lose if it wants to make the playoffs, and if that sense of urgency isn’t there, the Dolphins are going to be in big trouble.