The 9-3 New England Patriots:
Fresh off their eighth win in nine games, the 9-3 New England Patriots took care of the tricky Minnesota Vikings 24-10 in a Week 13 victory that included quarterback Tom Brady setting yet another personal milestone.
Brady, arguably the GOAT NFL quarterback and not particularly known for his mobility, has now officially run for 1,000 yards in his career after a 6-yard run and slide for a first down during the Vikings game.
New England has lost all three of their games on the road for an away record of 3-3, but they’re currently undefeated (3-0) against divisional rivals and favored by more than a touchdown so barring a miracle Dolphins upset this matchup looks to be Patriots all the way.
The 6-6 Miami Dolphins:
Since their Week 3 win over the Oakland Raiders, the 6-6 Miami Dolphins have lost two games after each victory ever since, which means their Week 13 victory over the Buffalo Bills 21-17 should be followed by two losses, one to the New England Patriots and the other to the Minnesota Vikings. Guess we’ll see.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill missed five games due to a shoulder injury but has been back in the lineup for the last two weeks, ranked 31st among NFL quarterbacks this season with 1,314 total passing yards and 13 touchdowns with 6 interceptions.
Miami is tough to beat at home, they’re 5-1 at Hard Rock Stadium, and they’re 3-1 against divisional rivals this season, so it’s entirely possible they could give the Patriots a run for their money.
What’s at stake:
These two teams have met 106 times (including 3 postseason games), with Miami winning 54 games and New England winning 52 games. The Dolphins have lost six out of the last ten of these games, their most recent defeat coming earlier in the season in Week 3 by a score of 38-7.
If the Patriots win this matchup, their record will be 10-3 and they’ll continue to dominate the AFC East by 5 games now and stay a solid second seed in the AFC playoff picture.
But if the Dolphins come out on top, they’ll be 7-6 and stay in the playoff wild card picture that has them and three other teams battling it out with the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC’s final postseason spot.
Questions to answer…
Who’s favored to win this Week 14 Patriots-Dolphins matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Patriots and the Dolphins and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Patriots offense 7th best in the NFL
When New England’s offense is firing on all cylinders, like they have been since about Week 4, it doesn’t even seem fair to all the other teams who don’t have as many effective weapons.
Watching Brady balance between the running and passing attack is thoroughly entertaining, with slot receiver Julian Edelman crossing the middle of the field while the physically gigantic deep threat Josh Gordon pulls coverage towards him.
Then add a healthy tight All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski into the mix, who’s only managed to suit up for nine games but still is 35-of-54 for 530 yards and 2 touchdowns, and defenses begin to feel the strain.
Patriots rushing attack with rookie and veteran
First round draft pick Sony Michel and veteran James White share snaps, their crew ranking 11th in the league averaging 121.7 yards per game.
Michel has played in 9 games and has run 144 times for 649 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus he’s caught 7 balls for 50 yards.
White is more of a dual threat, running 76 times for 329 yards and 4 touchdowns while catching 74-of-103 for 659 yards and 6 touchdowns.
New England offensive Injuries
Tight end Dwayne Allen (knee), who was out for Week 13, is listed as questionable for Week 14.
The 2018 Dolphins offense ranked 29th overall
The last time these two teams met in Week 4, the Dolphins’ offense only managed to score once so chances are offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains will game plan this one differently.
Tannehill will have receivers Danny Amendola, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker to target, their 28th ranked passing attack averaging just 199.4 yards per game.
The Dolphins could use more help from their tight ends, including veteran Nick O’leary and rookies Durham Smythe and Mike Gesicki, especially with A.J. Derby out (see below).
Miami’s run game lower tier
The Dolphins ground attack, ranked 24th, consists mainly of veteran Frank Gore and third-year back Kenyon Drake.
Gore has 716 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, while Drake has 750 yards from scrimmage and 8 touchdowns.
Miami offensive Injuries
Center Travis Swanson (ankle) and wide receiver Danny Amendola (knee) are both listed as questionable for Week 14.
Tight end A.J. Darby (foot) has been placed on injured reserve.
Patriots Defense ranks 22nd in the league
The Patriots defense keeps opponents to 21.6 points and 369.2 total yards per game with a passing defense ranked 24th but with a rush defense ranked 13th.
New England is third best in the league in total tackles with 851 and tied for third best in interceptions with 14, but their 19 total sacks puts them tied at 30th in that category.
Patriots Defensive Players to watch:
Keep an eye on middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who so far has 76 tackles (4 for loss), 5 quarterback hits, 2.0 sacks, 2 passes defended, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble.
Quarterback hunting defensive ends Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise have 4.5 sacks apiece.
Defensive back Jonathan Jones is tied for ninth in interceptions with 3.
Dolphins Defense is 29th overall
Good news for Brady’s offense, the Dolphins defense allows opponents to score an average of 25 points and gain about 400 yards per game with both their rushing and passing defenses ranked at 21st.
Miami has the second most interceptions in the league with 19, but when it comes to sacks they’re ranked 29th with just 20 and their measly 5 forced fumbles puts them second to last in that category overall.
Dolphins Defensive Players to watch:
Definitely check out outside linebacker Kiko Alonso, who’s tearing it up this season, tied for second most tackles, 106, 3 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Defensive ends Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn have 4.5 and 3.5 sacks, respectively.
Cornerback Xavien Howard’s 7 interceptions is the most out of anyone else in the league.
Cornerback Cornell Armstrong (knee) is listed as questionable for Week 14.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
New England’s punter, Ryan Allen, has been a Patriot all six of his NFL years and has punted 46 times for a net average of 38.7 yards per punt, ranked 29th in the NFL.
Miami’s punter, Matt Haack, an undrafted free agent last season, has punted 64 times for a net average of 40.7 yards per punt, tied for 12th in the NFL.
New England’s veteran placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who has spent all 13 of his NFL seasons as a Patriot, is 22-for-26, his longest was a 52-yarder.
Gostkowski hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (37/37).
Miami’s rookie placekicker, Jason Sanders, drafted in the seventh round, is 16-for-17, his longest was a 50-yarder.
Sanders has missed one extra point attempt (26/27).
New England’s punt returner, wide receiver Julian Edelman, is ranked 43rd in the league in return average.
Edelman has returned 12 punts for 82 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.8 yards per return, his longest was for 23 yards.
Miami’s punt returner, wide receiver Jakeem Grant (Achilles), was ranked 3rd in the league in return average but has been placed on injured reserve in Week 13.
Now receiving punts for Miami is wide receiver Kenny Stills.
Stills has returned 2 punts for 6 yards and a touchdown, averaging 3.0 yards per return, his longest was for 6 yards.
Patriots–Dolphins prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Patriots favored over the Dolphins by 7.5 with an over/under of 47.0.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the over and has it Patriots 27, Dolphins 23
John Breech takes the under and predicts it Patriots 24, Dolphins 17