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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 15 SD at DEN (THU) CIN at PIT NE at MIA SEA at NYG
ARI at TEN GB at DAL NO at STL SF at TB
BUF at JAC HOU at IND NYJ at CAR WAS at ATL
*UPDATED CHI at CLE KC at OAK PHI at MIN BAL at DET (MON)

Prediction: NE 23, MIA 24 (Line: NE by 2)

Update: Aaron Dobson was still held out of practices this week until getting some limited work on Friday. He is too risky to rely on for a fantasy start. Kenbrell Tompkins never had a full practice though he did some work in all three. He has a chance to play but I will not project for him. Check inactives before taking a risk with him.

The 10-3 Patriots are on a three game winning streak thanks to squeaking past the Browns when the referees gave them the game Brady pulled out a comeback. But the Pats are only 3-3 on the road and face the 7-6 Dolphins who are in the race for the #2 wild card. This is a replay of week eight when the Pats won 27-17 at home. The Dolphins have not beaten the Pats since 2009.

1 @BUF 23-21 10 BYE WEEK
2 NYJ 13-10 11 @CAR 20-24
3 TB 23-3 12 DEN 34-31
4 @ATL 30-23 13 @HOU 34-31
5 @CIN 6-13 14 CLE 27-26
6 NO 30-27 15 @MIA -
7 @NYJ 27-30 16 @BAL -
8 MIA 27-17 17 BUF -
9 PIT 55-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE @ MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 240,1
RB LeGarrette Blount 30
RB Stevan Ridley 60,1
RB Shane Vereen 30 8-60,1
WR Danny Amendola 4-50
WR Aaron Dobson 3-50
WR Julian Edelman 6-60
WR Brandon LaFell 4-50
TE Timothy Wright 2-30
PK Stephen Gostkowski 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The remaining schedule will likely see the Patriots favored in each but losing Rob Gronkowski throws the offense back into the same disarray from early in the season when the Patriots were scraping to get past an otherwise softer schedule. All they must do is win a single game and the AFC East belongs to them but lose one or two games and the #2 seed may not be there.

QUARTERBACKS: This was exactly what Tom Brady did not need. His security blanket and best receiver gone for the rest of the year and now we get the same Brady trying to figure out how to make Julian Edelman into an elite receiver. And it also ends the consistency that exists when Gronkowski plays. Prior to Gronk returning, Brady only passed for eight touchdowns over the first seven weeks.

Brady passed for only 116 yards and one score in the last meeting with the Fins but only needed to throw 22 passes.

RUNNING BACKS: Stevan Ridley left his doghouse long enough to run eight times for 35 yards in the win over the Browns and that was sharing an even count with LeGarrette Blount. Ridley is the better runner and may reclaim his primary role but he's always going to be one fumble away from ending up in the Boston Harbor. Shane Vereen was already a big factor as a receiver but once Gronkowski left he became even more relied upon. Vereen ended the Browns tilt with 12 receptions for 153 yards and was a responsible for the win as any other player. This is a very nice time to own Vereen.

Both Brandon Bolden and Ridley scored in the previous meeting with the Dolphins. Ridley rushed for 79 yards on 14 carries.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The only consistency in the wideouts is Julian Edelman who turned in two straight 100 yard games and then still caught six passes for 64 yards and a score versus the Browns. Over the last three weeks, Edelman has claimed the primary wideout role and is averaging over ten targets per game. That won't decline now that Gronkowski is out. Brady is more likely to shift to Vereen as an outlet but Edelman grows in value. The rest of the wideouts contribute in minor ways but rarely score. This is no different now than the mess that started the season. Danny Amendola accepted a minor role now that doesn't produce more than around 50 yards in any recent game.

TIGHT ENDS: Rob Gronkowski was placed on injured reserve with a torn right ACL and MCL, ending his season. As we learned earlier in the season, there is no replacement for him. The tight end ceases to matter for the Patriots.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Dolphins secondary has been outstanding in Miami where they only allowed three passing scores all year. This is one of the best passing defenses and their only weakness was against tight ends - no longer a problem here. The Fins are weak against the run and this is again where the Patriots have to focus. Expect a down game for Edelman in a place where no wideout has ever caught a score this year. Vereen is a must start, Brady and Ridley are more moderate in expectations. The rest of the wideouts including Edelman should be in for lesser performances this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 21 6 6 16 1 20
Preventing Fantasy Points MIA 5 25 3 27 25 15

 

1 @CLE 23-10 10 @TB 19-22
2 @IND 24-20 11 SD 20-16
3 ATL 27-23 12 CAR 16-20
4 @NO 17-38 13 @NYJ 23-3
5 BAL 23-26 14 @PIT 34-28
6 BYE WEEK 15 NE -
7 BUF 21-23 16 @BUF -
8 @NE 17-27 17 NYJ -
9 CIN 22-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIA vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Tannehill 40 230,2
RB Lamar Miller 70 2-10
RB Knowshon Moreno 50 7-50
RB Daniel Thomas 40,1
WR Brian Hartline 4-30,1
WR Rishard Matthews 2-30
WR Mike Wallace 4-50
TE Charles Clay 5-50,1
PK Caleb Sturgis 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Dolphins run through the AFC East in the final three weeks but only the Bills game will be on the road. Winning big on the road these last two weeks against the Jets and Steelers show that the Fins are progressing. This week will be the toughest of them all and against a team that has historically ruled them including earlier this year but at home will make a difference. And the Pats just losing Gronkowski won't help them either.

QUARTERBACKS: Ryan Tannehill scored in every game this year but half of them were just one touchdown. But he did break 300 yards four times including two of the last three games. He passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns in New England back in week eight.

RUNNING BACKS: Lamar Miller suffered a concussion last week but is optimistic that is won't be too bad and that he can suit up this week. In his place past week Daniel Thomas had his best game of the year with 105 yards and a score in Pittsburgh but he never gained more than 60 yards in any other game and back in week eight was held to 47 yards on nine runs while scoring on his only catch in the game in New England. Miller ran for 89 yards on 18 runs in that game.

I will assume that Miller can play and update as needed.

WIDE RECEIVERS: These wide receivers are inconsistent at best and all turned in low numbers in New England earlier this year. MIke Wallace was on a two game scoring streak but then only managed 19 yards in Pittsburgh and was held to three catches for 41 yards versus the Pats. Rishard Matthews enjoyed his freak game in Tampa Bay but otherwise is a nonfactor and Brian Hartline only managed 37 yards on four catches in New England but is on a two game scoring stretch currently with improved yardage from earlier in the year.

TIGHT ENDS: Charles Clay comes off his best game of the year when he caught seven passes for 97 yards and two scores in Pittsburgh, That makes three of the last four games over 80 yards though Clay was held to only 37 yards on five catches in the earlier meeting with the Pats.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: These games are hard to call anyway since they are divisional and both know each other so well. The Pats losing Gronk will affect their offense but defensively they have been better than average against the pass. Much of that has been more related to facing so many bad offenses. The Fins have no one star receiver for Talib to focus on and the Pats have been worse against the run when on the road. They have also allowed four tight end scores over the last four games.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIA 19 32 8 13 13 15
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 14 21 12 13 8 13

WEEK 15 SD at DEN (THU) CIN at PIT NE at MIA SEA at NYG
ARI at TEN GB at DAL NO at STL SF at TB
BUF at JAC HOU at IND NYJ at CAR WAS at ATL
*UPDATED CHI at CLE KC at OAK PHI at MIN BAL at DET (MON)


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