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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
BAL at JAC NE at MIA NYJ at CAR On Bye:  
HOU at IND* SF at CHI GB at ATL CIN, SD Updated *
KC at BUF WAS at TB* STL at SEA TEN. NO Times ET

Prediction: New England 20, Miami 17

Here's an interesting matchup between two of the better records in the AFC East (and yes, neither have a winning record). The Patriots come off a short week after a painful yet thorough loss to the Colts on Monday night football and the Dolphins were most recently handled by the Falcons in Atlanta. The question to be answered here is which of these ships passing in the night can win? They seem to be heading in different directions.

The Patriots beat the visiting Dolphins 10-24 in week five last year but then lost in Miami 29-28 in one of the bigger upsets last year.

New England Patriots (4-4)
1 30-20 OAK 11 Nov 13 @MIA
2 17-27 @CAR 12 Nov 20 NOR
3 23-20 @PIT 13 Nov 27 @KCC
4 17-41 SDC 14 Dec 4 NYJ
5 31-28 @ATL 15 Dec 11 @BUF
6 20-28 @DEN 16 Dec 17 TBB
7 Open Bye 17 Dec 26 @NYJ
8 21-16 BUF 7 Jan 1 MIA
9 21-40 IND M THU SAT
NEP at MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 270,2
RB Corey Dillon 60 10 0
TE Ben Watson 0 10 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 30 0
WR David Givens 0 50 0
WR Deion Branch 0 80,1 0
WR Tim Dwight 0 40,1 0
WR Troy Brown 0 40 0
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Well so much for the old Patriot magic. Peyton Manning and company pretty much stepped on the top hat and killed the rabbit when they dismantled the Patriot defense in pretty much every measurable way. Now the Pats are left with a rushing game that has been lagging, a defense that has allowed the fifth most points in the league this year and Tom Brady who now has to win every game almost by himself with no help from the departed OC Charlie Weiss. This just in, the Patriots have allowed 40 more points this year than they have scored themselves.

Quarterback: While there are plenty of factors to blame as to why the Patriots are having such a bad time this year compared to last, but none of the fingers should be pointing at Tom Brady. He's thrown for scores in all but one game and already has three games over 300 yards passing. With Dillon gaining about half what he did in 2004, Brady will need to keep throwing.

Brady threw for 171 yards and three touchdowns in Miami last year.

Running Backs: Corey Dillon has now been back for two games since incurring his mysterious leg injury that most agree was/is an ankle. He only gained 40 yards on 12 runs against the Colts and his entire value has been mostly getting the short touchdowns when the Patriots reach near the goal line. He is only averaging 63 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry.

Corey Dillon rushed for 121 yards and one touchdown in Miami last year.

Wide Receivers: Deion Branch comes off one of the most rare of all things Patriot - two consecutive games with a touchdown by the same wideout. He had 58 yards last Monday and 92 yards the previous week. David Givens turned in 64 against the Colts and had 58 yards on seven receptionsthe two previous weeks. Brady even started using Troy Brown more when he had five catches for 57 yards and one score. There is little pattern here ever though Branch is coming dangerously close to being reliable.

In two meetings against the Dolphins in 2004, the best wideout for the Patriots was Deion Branch with only 44 yards. No wideout scored a touchdown in either game.

Tight Ends: Daniel Graham had an impressive 31-yard scoot into the endzone last week though that was the first score in a month for him. Ben Watson also had more play, catching a season high three passes for 36 yards. Graham has three scores on the season and remains the most likely tight end to do much in a game - if that even happens. Graham scored in both meetings with the Dolphins last year.

Match Against the Defense: This should be interesting. Dillon is not running particularly well as of late and the Dolphins have really only allowed the Chiefs to visit and run wild on them. Otherwise, the defense has been fairly solid against the run. Look for moderate yardage from Dillon since that seems all he is capable of lately but a chance for a rushing score.

Brady could have some problems against the Dolphins secondary but nothing he cannot exploit at least for one or two scores since two cornerbacks cannot cover four wideouts at the same time. Tight ends have not scored against the Dolphins this season and are not likely to here. Expect at least decent yardage from Brady as always with the chance for two scores but the intangible in this game will be that the Patriots have to regroup after the worse - and nationally televised - butt whooping that any of them can remember.

Miami Dolphins (3-5)
1 34-10 DEN 10 Nov 13 NE
2 7-17 @NYJ 11 Nov 20 @CLE
3 27-24 CAR 12 Nov 27 @OAK
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 BUF
5 14-20 @BUF 14 Dec 11 @SDC
6 13-27 @TBB 15 Dec 18 NYJ
7 20-30 KCC 16 Dec 24 TEN
8 21-6 @NOR 17 Jan 1 @NE
9 10-17 ATL . . SAT
MIA vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Gus Frerotte 0 0 180,1
RB Ronnie Brown 70,1 10 0
RB Ricky Williams 50 10 0
TE Randy McMichael 0 20 0
WR Chris Chambers 0 80, 1 0
WR Marty Booker 0 30 0
WR Wes Welker 0 20 0
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Dolphins may be only one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East, but they have been less than impressive getting there (hence the 3-5 record). The Fins have lost three of their last four games with only a road win against the Saints as a win. The offense is stuck at scoring less than 20 points in most games and that's directly tied to the passing game that has almost disappeared over the last month.

Quarterback: Gus Frerotte started the season well enough when he had seven touchdowns in the first four games but he's only managed to throw one more in the last four games. He comes off a season low 103 yards against the Falcons and his worst games seem to come at home because the running game works a bit better. Frerotte has declined sharply in productivity once there was a full months of game film floating around the league.

Running Backs: As if the lack of any fantasy stars in the passing game was not enough, the Dolphins are continuing to use a timeshare between Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Williams scored his first touchdown since turning nutty in the summer of 2004 and gained 52 yards on ten carries. Ronnie Brown had 12 carries for 67 yards against the Falcons. The previous week against the Saints had Brown with a nice 23 carry game for 106 yards be stripped of potential when Williams also had 17 carries for 82 yards. Two good things only serve to remind you what one great thing could be.

Wide Receivers: This passing game has fallen apart lately and taken almost all value from the wideouts along with it. Chris Chambers has been the only source of production with three scores on the season and he had been managing 60 to 80 yards a game for a time but only has 65 yards in the last two games combined. Marty Booker rarely has more than two catches or more than about 40 yards in a game and Wes Welker does even less. The matchup this week should provide a better opportunity for the passing game to click but nothing in the last month says it will happen.

Tight Ends: After scoring in each of the first four games, Randy McMichael has spent the last four weeks with almost exactly 20 yards per outing. Write it down. In each of the last four games he has had exactly three catches and yardage of 20, 29, 20 and 21 yards.

Match Against the Defense: This matchup is less about what is coming to town than what the Dolphins have to put on the table themselves. The duo of Williams and Brown will likely water each other down to only marginal numbers though there should be one score. The Patriots are soft against the run and the Dolphins will undoubtedly be running all they can.

Frerotte has a great secondary to exploit but he's been so bad lately that expecting anything more than one touchdown is excessively optimistic. And only Chambers has caught a touchdown for the Dolphins for the past month.