The Patriots surely were impressive last weekend weren’t they? Best team win of the season, especially on offense. It was the best Tom Brady has looked all year. Even if the stats are pretty pedestrian with 271 yards and one touchdown. But he had a 78.79 completion percentage, his highest since the week one SHELLACKING of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Long story short, this offense had a spark, much like they did at the end of the year last season after a couple of brutal losses.
Now I’m not saying “the best is yet to come” like I did last year. I literally wrote an article at the website I used to write for saying that the best of the Patriots were coming in January, people called me crazy and then they won the Super Bowl. Could that be happening again? Very possible, but it’s not likely. The Baltimore Ravens are just an offense we haven’t seen before that absolutely smoked New England back in week nine. But we said this last year as well. So we’ll see how it looks in January. Anyway here’s what you came for, your preview for the hopefully easy going game against the Miami Dolphins in Gillette!
Three Keys To The Game
Key #1 : Get Ahead Fast
This goes without saying, nobody wants to play week 17. After 15 games everybody is pretty much done and all of the playoffs are set besides some little things, usually. But if the Patriots lose this game, and the Kansas City Chiefs win? Number two seed goes to Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid and the Patriots have to play wildcard weekend, the first time since 2009 where they were recorded getting brutally knocked out by Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens. So blowing out this team and getting guys like Brady and Edelman (ESPECIALLY EDELMAN) the rest they absolutely need would be great, don’t need this roster getting banged up heading into the postseason.
Key #2 : Bench As Many Starters As Possible
Okay, there’s obviously going to be players this game that we aren’t going to need to beat the Dolphins. If we don’t start everybody, which I don’t rule out. We have to sit guys like Edelman or Gilmore and Brady. Just so they don’t get hurt. I think everybody is in favor of this and Bill Belichick will be eyeballing the score and hoping to pull all the key guys by halftime. But this game unfortunately DOES mean something so they have to make sure the Dolphins don’t suddenly resurrect and play spoiler on us.
Key #3: Find Players We Can Use In Playoffs
Screw it, it’s week 17. We should break out some guys we haven’t been able to use yet. Like third round pick HB Damien Harris or maybe see what we have at TE in Ryan Izzo again. We need some more offensive plus players, because Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead are only going to get you so far in the run-game. Meanwhile Matt LaCosse is what he is. Not great, but good enough to get by, clearly.
I’ve been frustrated all year by the lack of Harris. We could’ve used him when the offense ran dry. Izzo also had a day in Washington against the R-Words with 39 yards and a touchdown. Sure it was on two catches but at least he was getting some attention. Find some guys we can make some use of in the playoffs where everything is thrown to the wall.
X-Factor : Bill Belichick
We went over this earlier, the personnel decisions Bill Belichick makes during Week 17 will affect the future of this playoff run. This win will gave the Patriots the MUCH needed bye. Losing will give it to Kansas City. Coach Belichick will probably play MOST if not ALL the starters that they came in with last week, but don’t look for him to force somebody like CB Jonathan Jones back because we should be able to win without him. Or if Sanu is still banged up, we could probably win without him.
We can’t win without Brady or Edelman. Therefore they will play. How long? Depends on the score, but Coach Belichick can’t pull these guys too early, but we don’t want them in there too late. It’s all on Belichick here and I have faith he will do what’s best for the team.
Listen, this game, much like the Bengals game, should be a steamrolling. The Patriots should be checked out at halftime and everything is just perfect. But the Dolphins are over achieving as of late. They just took the 1-14 Bengals to OT and won it. They’re capable of winning games (4-11, more than I thought they’d have). They’ll do everything they can to keep it close, and Flores is probably looking to take on Belichick and make it a game this time around. So they won’t just roll over, right away anyway.
Get up 27-7 at halftime and start warming the buses? Miami will be looking to get out of here just as much as the Patriots will. Honestly that’s how I see this game going, though I doubt Edelman and Brady get pulled until late in the fourth no matter how this game goes, so Edelman will have to hang in there for one more game to get the much needed rest that he’s earned. Before the stakes are raised even higher and the competition gets even tougher. We’ll likely have to play Kansas City or Houston in the divisional round again as the number two seed. Which is a scenario we are all dreading.
Final Score : 33-10, New England
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Photo Source : Alan Diaz / AP Photo