The Miami Dolphins are headed to Gillette Stadium this Sunday to take on the New England Patriots in the first game of the season for the two AFC East rivals (1pm ET on CBS).
Read on for USAbetting’s Dolphins vs Patriots predictions and preview for this matchup, along with concluding NFL game betting picks.
A New Era in New England
It has been nearly 10 months since the New England Patriots made their shocking first-round exit in the 2019-20 postseason, falling to Bill Belichick coaching tree disciple, Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans. That loss also marked the last time in nearly 20 years that Tom Brady was seen in a Patriots uniform. Looking for new scenery in the twilight of his career, Brady, who had quarterbacked the Patriots to two very successful decades and six Super Bowl rings, left the Patriots in the offseason to play for a new team for the first time in his career. Now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with former Patriot tight end, Rob Gronkowski, New England is looking at their most uncertain season in some time. The expectations of the team in 2020-21, while internally may be the same, certainly do not feel as high on the national stage.
Take the odds with the USA betting firms for example. The Patriots, who entered last season as favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champions, have just the ninth best odds to win this year. For the first time in a long time, the Patriots hold on the AFC East may be in danger as well. New England are +150 in the division, which is second behind the Buffalo Bills (+120), a team on the rise for some time now. The AFC East race will be a fascinating one this year as it is the tightest division, as far as the betting lines go, in all of football.
The road to winning their 12th division title won’t be an easy one but Belichick is convinced his team still has the talent, with or without Brady, to get it done. The first man to get his crack at replacing Brady is veteran Cam Newton, who on Sunday, will become the first quarterback not drafted by New England, to suit up for the Patriots, since 1993. That is really when the New England era of dominance began under Drew Bledsoe and then Brady. Now the mantle is Newton’s, who will look to become the first QB not drafted by the team to lead them to a Super Bowl appearance. For the now 31-year-old signal caller, in the midst of his 10th NFL season, reaching the Super Bowl isn’t a foreign concept. Newton led the Carolina Panthers to the big game in 2015, the same year he won the MVP. It was Newton’s best career year and one the former first overall pick has unfortunately failed to come close to repeating. Newton’s decline paved the way for his exit from Carolina as the Panthers opted to put their faith into Josh Allen instead of their 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year.
As much as the Patriots want to prove they can win without Brady, Newton is out to prove they can win with him. It is hard to believe that a former MVP, Rookie of the Year, first overall pick, and Heisman Trophy Winner would, in just his 10th year in the league, be signing a deal for the veteran minimum, but that’s exactly Newton’s position. Signed to just a one-year deal, Newton wasn’t even officially named the team’s starter until last week. On Sunday, he will make his first start in New England and all eyes will be on Newton to see if he can return to his best or if he’ll struggle leading his new team. One thing is for certain, it is a new era in New England and whether that leads to more rings and banners remains to be seen.
Will it be Fitz-magic or Fitz-tragic in Miami?
Staying on the theme of the guys under center, we move to Miami’s quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is a longtime journeyman set to begin his 16th NFL season this Sunday. The 37-year-old has played for eight teams in his career and is the only NFL quarterback ever to throw a touchdown pass with eight different teams. He has been with the Dolphins now for just two seasons with last year not being particularly memorable from a passing standpoint. Fitzpatrick found himself sharing the field and the bench with Josh Rosen as the Dolphins looked to find a guy under center who could help the team win games. In all, they won just five on the year, a step back from the progress Miami had been making prior.
Among those wins however, was one over the Patriots, which Fitzpatrick led the team to with his strong performance of 320 passing yards and a rushing and passing touchdown. With 243 rushing yards on the year, Fitzpatrick’s claim to fame wasn’t a good one for Dolphins fans as the QB led the team in rushing. Not a running back, but a quarterback, led the team in rushing, which is something the Dolphins spent the offseason trying to make sure won’t happen again.
Entering this year, Fitzpatrick won the starting job again, but much like Newton, all eyes will be on how long he keeps it given Tua Tagovailoa is waiting in the wings. The former Alabama quarterback, who put up insane numbers in college, was drafted fifth overall by the team and is no doubt the guy of the future in Miami. How soon that future comes however, may depend on how well Fitzpatrick starts this season. Tagovailoa is still perhaps a few weeks away from fully recovering from his hip injury, but once he is, the Dolphins may have some tough choices to make.
Our Preview’s Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
Two quarterbacks looking to salvage their careers while their replacements are knocking down the door. That’s the storyline heading into this one. New England owns the rivalry with the Dolphins, though as mentioned in this preview above, Miami did take their last meeting. This is a new dawn in New England so anything is possible. Odds still favor the Patriots here and somewhat easily.
These are our Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots predictions for this Sunday NFL game preview: