It’s finally the last game of the regular the season. And what a better way to end with a win against long-time rivals the New England Patriots. Even though both teams have clinched a playoff berth they are both playing for something. With a Dolphins win they would face the Houston Texans rather than the Pittsburgh Steelers which would be a much more favorable matchup for Miami. With a Patriots win they would secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Last year, the Patriots lost in Miami in the season finale. This came back to haunt New England as they would lose home field advantage and had to play the Broncos in Denver. Denver took advantage of their home field and were catapulted into the Super Bowl as New England were sent home empty handed. How can Miami stop the red-hot Tom Brady and New England Patriots?
1. Get After Tom Brady
The Miami Dolphins arguably have the best QB rushing attacks in the NFL thanks to Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. Let’s not forget Andre Branch who has done an exceptional job of complimenting Miami’s defensive line. They have haunted many QB’s this season. Some were escorted to the locker room injured while others would need a breather or 2 on the sidelines. Tom Brady continues to impress at age 39. Since Tom Brady’s return after his 4-game suspension he has led the Patriots to 9 wins and only 1 loss. He’s thrown for 25 TD’s and only 2 interceptions. The Dolphins defense who is missing 9 starters certainly has their work cut out for them. We already know the Dolphins have struggled with defending the run and covering tight-ends. And the word “struggled” is an understatement. Last week, the Bills used their tight-end Charles Clay and running back LeSean McCoy generously and really gave Miami a headache on defense. But the Dolphins still pulled off an impressive win. If the Dolphins want a repeat of that Suh, Wake, and Branch will have to find a way to get after Tom Brady and hit him hard. They must do this early and get into his head. If they fail to reach him in time expect Brady to quickly pass to his RB’s or TE. If the Dolphins up front attack can get after Brady this will set the tone for the game.
2. Matt Moore Must Improve
Matt Moore has done a solid job of stepping in for Ryan Tannehill the past two games. He is 2-0 as a starter. His QB rating is 113.4 (516 yards, 6 TDs, 2 INTs). Last game against Buffalo Moore made some terrible throws. Luckily, Miami’s talented receivers had 100+ yards after the catch last week. We didn’t see the fire in Matt Moore against the Bills that we saw against the New York Jets. Matt Moore must make better throws and smarter decisions with the football. We know that Jay Ajayi will come to play. But, to beat this New England team Matt Moore must come to play as well.
3. Home Field Advantage
Playing in front of your home crowd in a playoff-like game is an amazing feeling. The past two seasons Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross has spent around $500 million dollars to renovate the once called “Joe Robbie Stadium” into the state-of-the-art “Hard Rock Stadium”. Not only does the stadium have 300 level patio bars and 4 giant 1,472-inch screens the Dolphins now play under a giant open air canopy that shades 92% of fans. And let’s not forget the roof also protects the Dolphins bench in the shade as the away team has the pleasure of roasting in the Miami sun. Players and fans have noticed the stadium is much louder than ever before due to the new culture change in Miami and canopy that holds in the noise. Miami fans need to make this Sunday’s atmosphere loud. Especially when Tom Brady and the Patriots have the ball. With the loud noise comes miscommunications on both offense and defense. Anything against this Patriots team will help the Dolphins. Time to raise the roof!
The Dolphins really need this win. The question is who wants it more? Tom Brady learned that last year’s season finale most likely cost the Patriots a trip to the Super Bowl. Expect Brady and company to go full throttle this time. Miami always plays New England hard at home. If Miami can pull the upset they will not only have a better playoff outlook, but they will be sending a message to the Patriots that their division is no longer a cake walk.