With only three weeks left in the NFL regular season every game is a must-win. This is especially true within the division. The New England Patriots travel south to take on the Miami Dolphins in a pivotal matchup with huge playoff implications (1pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on CBS).
What are the factors in play here and how will it unfold? Here our New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphin predictions and preview, from USAbetting, will aim to answer those questions.
This season may be one of Bill Belichick’s best coaching performances of his career despite their less-than-stellar record. He has the Patriots sitting at 6-7 even with a quarterback that has been unable to throw the ball with any success for much of the season. Cam Newton is 26th in the NFL in passing yards and tied for 35th in passing touchdowns. He only has five touchdowns to 10 interceptions (tied for 5th most in the league). The first season without Tom Brady has gone better than many predicted. To even have six wins with such a lackluster quarterback situation is a testament to Belichick’s ability as a coach.
The Patriots bread and butter are a dominant rushing attack on offense and a strong defense against the pass. Their ground game ranks 5th in average rushing yards per game (147.5) and their secondary only allows 218.5 passing yards against per game, which is 7th best in the league. The Patriots’ strength on offense is what the Dolphins do worst on defense. On the season the Dolphins have had one of the better secondaries in the NFL. Dolphins’ cornerback Xavien Howard leads the league in interceptions (9) and Patriots’ corner J.C. Jackson is right behind him in second (7). The Dolphins can turn you over at will, which could be a problem for a quarterback in Newton that has been an interception machine.
I trust Belichick to take the ball out of the veteran quarterback’s hands and rely on Damien Harris and the run game. Harris leads the team in rushing yards (691) and averages 5.0 yards per carry. Newton uses his big frame well in the red zone and scores rushing touchdowns with ease. He leads the team with 11 touchdowns on the ground. Next closest is running back Rex Burkhead with three.
If the Dolphins’ defense can be exploited, it is on the ground. Miami ranks 21st in the NFL and allows 120.2 rushing yards per game. Look for Belichick to game plan this and dominate the game through the run to limit the mistakes and ineptitude of Newton in the passing game. I think the Patriots will control the clock and win a lower scoring game as slight road underdogs with the most popular US sports wagering sites.
Our Betting Preview’s New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins Predictions & Picks Opinion
As stated previously in this Sunday NFL game preview, USAbetting is going to be playing the Patriots as short +1.5pts road dogs. This line opened at +2.5pts and has been bet down a bit despite more bets and money coming in on the Dolphins. According to the Action Network, Miami is receiving 58% of bets and 63% of the money. I think they will be able to do enough to win this game outright and that the spread won’t matter, which is why I will be playing them on the moneyline.
Historically Bill Belichick has dominated rookie quarterbacks and will have another opportunity to do so on Sunday versus Tua Tagovailoa. This will only be Tua’s seventh start of his career and I expect Belichick to throw the kitchen sink at him on the defensive side of the ball. Since taking over in 2000, Belichick is 21-5 with rookies under center and they haven’t lost to a first-year quarterback since 2013.
The Patriots are coming off an embarrassing loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams. This week against Miami should be the perfect spot to bounce back after losing 24-3 on Thursday Night Football. Belichick will have had extra time to prepare and the Hall of Fame coach is quite successful getting his team back on track after a sizable loss. In his career Belichick is 19-5 against the spread the game after a double-digit loss. I expect them to get back on track and beat the Dolphins this week.
Anticipate a lower scoring affair, but the total of over/under 41 or 41.5pts felt a bit too low so we are much more comfortable with the Patriots winning the game. We see this as a 24-20 victory for New England. So the verdict of our New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins predictions is this sole pick: