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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 28, , 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 4:30 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM SEA at GB*
DEN at SD* ARI at IND CHI at MIN* NO at TB WAS at PHI*
Sat 8 PM BAL at CLE CIN at KC Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
Updated* CAR at ATL MIA at NE TEN at JAC* Times ET

Prediction: Miami 10, New England 20

The Patriots won 23-16 in week 10 when these teams played in Miami and these Patriots are only getting better. The Fins are only 3-4 on the road this year. The Patriots have nothing to win in this game though since they will be the 4th seed in the AFC regardless. That should only mean that the game remains closer instead of a big win by the Patriots.

Miami Dolphins (8-7)
1 34-10 DEN 10 16-23 NE
2 7-17 @NYJ 11 0-22 @CLE
3 27-24 CAR 12 33-21 @OAK
4 Open Bye 13 24-23 BUF
5 14-20 @BUF 14 23-21 @SDC
6 13-27 @TBB 15 24-20 NYJ
7 20-30 KCC 16 24-10 TEN
8 21-6 @NOR 17 Jan 1 @NE
9 10-17 ATL . . SAT
MIA at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Gus Frerotte 0 0 190,1
RB Ronnie Brown 40 10 0
RB Ricky Williams 50 20 0
TE Randy McMichael 0 40 0
WR Chris Chambers 0 60,1 0
WR Marty Booker 0 40 0
WR Wes Welker 0 20 0
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Dolphins have vastly improved this season particularly on offense where the new scheme installed by OC Scott Linehan appears to be taking root. Since the fiasco in Cleveland, the Dolphins have been scoring at least 23 points in every game with a surprising string of three very close wins before finally thumping the Titans last week.

Quarterback: Gus Frerotte threw for 360 yards and two scores in the previous meeting with the Patriots in week 10. He's been having nice success with Chambers lately as well but the Patriots secondary has stiffened up a great deal since that week ten game and in New England this time, Frerotte is more likely to toss one of his sub-200 yard games that he has been turning in about every other week.

Running Backs: With Ronnie Brown sidelined last week, Ricky Williams had a monster game against the lowly Titans when he ran for 172 yards and one score on 26 carries. Brown was inactive due to ankle and knee sprains but is expected to return this week.

Brown ran 14 times for 64 yards and Williams added just 13 yards on 11 carries in the previous game against the Pats.

Wide Receivers: The amazing streak continues. Chris Chambers has now scored six touchdowns over the last four games and had two last week against the Titans on only five passes for 51 yards. He only had one really good game before that when he had two scores and 69 yards against the Patriots in week 10. He's hardly a secret weapon anymore but he is proving good enough to score even when the secondary is planning against him.

Marty Booker had 103 yards in the previous effort against the Pats but has settled down to around 50 yards in most games since that effort.

Tight Ends: Randy McMichael has settled down to right at 40 yards per game in three of the last four efforts. McMichael had seven catches for 81 yards in week 10 against the Patriots.

Match Against the Defense: There is no denying that the Patriots are playing far better defense lately and that should spell lower numbers from the Dolphins regardless if the Pats rest some of their own offensive players. Tedy Bruschi has injured his leg in some never disclosed manner and seems likely to miss this game which will help Houston to some extent. But Houston's output is more likely to be limited by volume of carries than anything. Look for moderate and be shocked if he does better.

Frerotte has been up and down this year and has looked stellar recently but in New England, this game smacks of yet another low effort from him and the rebuilding Dolphins. Expect him to throw for one score as the Patriots always allow as much but anything more will be trash time because the Pats score got too big for them to care anymore. Since the Pats will likely take this one easier, a lower score all around should depress any passing numbers here. Chambers has to be the favored receiver to catch the score largely because almost no other Miami receiver seems capable.

New England Patriots (10-5)
1 30-20 OAK 11 23-16 @MIA
2 17-27 @CAR 12 24-17 NOR
3 23-20 @PIT 13 16-26 @KCC
4 17-41 SDC 14 16-3 NYJ
5 31-28 @ATL 15 35-7 @BUF
6 20-28 @DEN 16 28-0 TBB
7 Open Bye 17 31-21 @NYJ
8 21-16 BUF 7 Jan 1 MIA
9 21-40 IND M THU SAT
NEP vs MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 200,1
RB Corey Dillon 50,1 10 0
RB Patrick Pass 40 10 0
RB Heath Evans 30 10 0
TE Ben Watson 0 30 0
WR David Givens 0 40 0
WR Deion Branch 0 40 0
WR Tim Dwight 0 40,1 0
WR Troy Brown 0 20 0
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Patriots have already clinched the AFC East and cannot hope to do better than #4 seed so this game has little meaning. There is no word if players will be held out this week because the Patriots never say anything to anyone (other than thanks for the trophy). Spinning through the AFC East the last month has made the Patriots look a lot like 2005.

Quarterback: Tom Brady has thrown for more passing yards than any quarterback this year (4073) and his 25 passing scores ranks third in the league. He'll start this week but he could end up on the sideline as he did at the end of the game last Monday.

Brady threw for 275 yards and two scores against the Fins in week 10.

Running Backs: Corey Dillon has not been tearing up the field for big yardage since returning in week 13, but he has been a scoring machine with six scores over the last four games. Expect Dillon to get more rest this week in a meaningless game to save him for the playoffs.

Dillon was injured in week 10 and Heath Evans ran for 84 yards on 17 carries in Miami.

Wide Receivers: Deion Branch remains the most consistent wideout here and he comes off a decent 69 yard performance last week but he has not scored in the last six games and his role as starter likely spells a greater chance that he will eventually sit this week. Same for David Givens.

No wideouts scored in week 10 but Branch had 82 yards on five catches in Miami.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson is a solid utility sort of player now, turning in around 30 or 40 yards a game and rarely scoring.

Ben Watson only had three catches for 37 yards but scored twice in the previous meeting with the Fins.

Match Against the Defense: The Patriots are always tough to match-up and predict and now that the game is a meaningless replay of a game they already won on the road this year, it is even less reliable to forecast since some players may not finish the game. Expect Dillon to rush in a score here but likely have lesser yardage.

Brady will play and could go the entire game but there is no guarantee. Expect lower passing numbers here that will be even harder to predict.