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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Bye Week
* updated

Prediction: MIA 14, NE 30

Early Update: Randy Moss was given the bye week off but he has returned to practice and will play with no issues.

This matchup has quickly morphed into one of the best in the AFC East. The Dolphins are only 3-4 thanks to a brutal schedule but all three wins came against AFC East opponents. The Patriots are back on top of the division at 5-2 thanks to the Jets loss to these Dolphins last week. The fun part of these Dolphin games is that they have special teams and defensive happenings added to the ever-changing offensive formation so that predicting it is almost impossible.

The Fins won 38-13 in New England last year in the great unveiling of the wildcat formation but the Pats later beat the Dolphins 48-28 in Miami in week 12, 2008.

Miami Dolphins (3-4)
Homefield: Dolphins Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @ATL 7-19 +4 43.5
2 IND 23-27 +3 42
3 @SD 13-23 +6 42
4 BUF 38-10 +2.5 37
5 NYJ 31-27 +1.5 36.5
6 BYE - - -
7 NO 34-46 +6 48
8 @NYJ 30-25 +3.5 40
9 @NE - +10.5 47
10 TB - - -
11 @CAR - - -
12 @BUF - - -
13 NE - - -
14 @JAC - - -
15 @TEN - - -
16 HOU - - -
17 PIT - - -
MIA at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Henne     180,1
RB Ronnie Brown 60 10  
RB Ricky Williams 50,1 30  
TE Anthony Fasano   30,1  
WR Brian Hartline   40  
WR Greg Camarillo   30  
WR Davone Bess   20  
PK Dan Carpenter   2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Dolphins have not been favored in any games this year. This week they are the least favored so far and yet this is the game that the Fins won handily last season and set off imitators throughout the league of the wildcat formation. The Fins have scored over 30 points in the last four games and each divisional matchup has ended up as an "over" by a large margin. A win here is very unlikely - just like last week.

Quarterback: Chad Henne has been less effective in road games so far, opening his season in San Diego when he took over for Chad Pennington and then just last week when he passed for 112 yards and one touchdown in New York against the Jets. The Fins remain a run-first team and Henne is not going to save the day in this offense. He plays the role of a game manager so far with four touchdowns against three interceptions.

Pennington had three scores when the Patriots visited in 2008 but only posted 226 yards and no scores in New England.

The Patriots have allowed most teams to throw for one or more scores but the Dolphins are not likely to pass much and there is no guarantee it will actually be Henne who throws the long gainer or touchdown. I am projecting one passing score but the confidence is low on that.

Running Backs: Ronnie Brown is having a banner year and has scored seven times already with two games over 100 rushing yards. But all those scores and both big yardage games came at home. He's been almost unstoppable in Miami. Away - no scores and around 50 rushing yards on average. Brown is the one that kills the opponents and the one that the Patriots will scheme to stop.

Ricky Williams has been less productive in most games though he has scored on the road and came up big against the Saints when Brown was held to only 48 yards. Brown takes the bulk of carries but Williams always has enough work to offer decent fantasy value.

Brown had a career best game when he rushed for 113 yards on 17 carries and scored four touchdowns in New England last year when the wildcat formation had its first start.

The Patriots have only allowed one rushing score this year and most runners have been held to less than 60 yards with the exception of Ray Rice and Chris Johnson who both broke long runs. Expect the Pats to devote all hands to stopping Brown and with that allowing Williams to have a slightly better game and one score - if that even happens.

Wide Receivers: Ted Ginn was a game winner last week with his two long kickoff returns for a touchdown and he was so successful that HC Tony Sparano has opted to stop pretending that the former first-rounder will become a decent wide receiver and just use him strictly as a return man or a situational deep threat. That leaves Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess and Brian Hartline to be the starters who have a combined one touchdown on the year and no games over 100 yards. Only once have them managed to exceed 57 yards.

Wideouts only scored once against the Patriots in their two meetings last year and in New England none had more than 60 yards.

The Patriots have only allowed one visiting wideout to score this year and most remain under 50 yards which already fits the Fins. No reliable fantasy value here this week.

Tight Ends: Anthony Fasano has only scored once this year and has been little used compared to 2008. Fasano led all receivers when he had 66 yards and a score in New England and that is likely again this year. It's hard to rely on in fantasy terms, but it is the most likely scoring position.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIA 29 3 22 31 11 4
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 6 6 8 4 2 3

New England Patriots (5-2)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 BUF 25-24 -10.5 47
2 @NYJ 9-16 -6 46
3 ATL 26-10 -4 44.5
4 BAL 27-21 -2 44.5
5 @DEN 17-20 -3.5 41.5
6 TEN 59-0 -9.5 43
7 @TB 35-7 -15.5 44.5
8 BYE BYE - -
9 MIA - -10.5 47
10 @IND - - -
11 NYJ - - -
12 @NO - - -
13 @MIA - - -
14 CAR - - -
15 @BUF - - -
16 JAC - - -
17 @HOU - - -
NE vs MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 10,1   300,2
RB Laurence Maroney 50 10  
TE Ben Watson   30  
WR Randy Moss   100,1  
WR Wes Welker   100,1  
WR Brandon Tate   20  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 3 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Patriots have stumbled in two road games this year against very good defenses but at home have been more than up to the task beating the Falcons and Ravens before crushing the Titans in a shut out. This week is an important game and it sets off a string of five straight weeks that will determine the season. That's playing the Dolphins twice and facing the Jets for the second meeting and then two of the worst road games possible - in Indianapolis and New Orleans. The Pats can lose those two and still handily win the division but this is going to be a very challenging streak of games with no let up.

Quarterback: After a slower start to the season when he had only thrown for four touchdowns in the first four games, Tom Brady has come back to life and passed for 11 touchdowns in just the last three weeks. That includes six scores against the visiting Titans and three more in Tampa Bay. He's been getting up to speed and recently claims to feel healthier than he has at any point in his NFL career. Of course Sunday night back rubs from Gisele Bundchen helps.

Brady never played against the Fins last year due to his injury. Matt Cassel had minimal production in the first meeting with the Dolphins but later posted over 400 passing yards and three scores in the second meeting.

The Dolphins secondary has already given up three games with 300 or so yards and road games have given up a couple of scores per week. I like this game to go well for Brady because it is crucial to the season which is about to get very difficult. Coming off the bye week, expect a good showing here with the the team largely healthy again. If Brady can have a huge game - he will not stop to be polite.

Running Backs: Sammy Morris still has not returned to practice from his knee injury and the Pats were trying out running backs on Monday as a sign that this unit is still banged up. Laurence Maroney will get the start again and should have no more than marginal numbers against one of the better rushing defenses. The split between runners will ensure that none have much fantasy value.

The Dolphins have held most runners to under 50 yards and that should continue here since the Patriots are not about to abandon the pass in order to run more.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss has only scored four times this year and has three 100 yard efforts - all scores and big games were at home. He has never had a bad home game this year though each road effort was mediocre. Wes Welker has been a machine as of late with dual games of ten catches each and over 100 yards. Welker has scored four times in just the last three games played and unlike Moss has performed well everywhere.

The Patriots will be using the rookie Brandon Tate for the #3 role along with Sam Aiken in a rotation. The position has been a fantasy wasteland so far but the rookie is worth keeping an eye on in this prolific passing attack.

The Dolphins have been solid against most wideouts but have allowed five scores to the position and arguably have not faced near the talent that the Pats will be bringing. Both Moss and Welker are strong plays this week.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson has only offered marginal yardage this year but has scored in both of the most recent games. His lack of yardage makes him a big risk for a fantasy start but he has a chance for a passing score this week. If Brady throws for three touchdowns, one should end up with Watson.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 2 8 1 17 4 19
Preventing Fantasy Points MIA 26 5 10 25 30 25

The Huddle
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