We’re on to Miami.
I’d really like to chime in on the Dolphins and get my licks in on this dysfunctional, overhyped football team, but Miko Grimes (wife of Dolphins cornerback Brent) beat me to the punch. Here are some snippets from her twitter handle last week (12/27 between 6:29 PM and 9:06PM… with about 7 uhhh…orange juices??? in between):
“I knew this QB stunk the minute we signed to this team but I tried to keep quiet so I didn’t discourage bae from believing in his team.”
Ouch. Comin’ in hot. Could perhaps be referring to backup QB Matt Moore, though? Right...?
“I should’ve known we were gonna lose when I heard we didn’t complete a SINGLE PASS in 2 min drills this week against practice squad defense.
Oh boy… you just know this isn’t going to be a soft landing… still up for interpretation though, no…?
“My column: How many people does ryan tannehill have to get fired before you realize he’s the problem.”
Boom! Andddd the name drop haymaker! STOP THE FIGHT, STOP THE FIGHT!!!
I would join Miko here in this onslaught, but unfortunately I’m not 7 ojs deep and I don’t trust my writing enough to so eloquently express my thoughts as Mrs. Grimes has meticulously done here.
Let’s take it around the table and see what the BBS staff has to say about this Sunday afternoon divisional showdown in Miami…
Tom Brady: Over/Under 300 yards passing?
Niko: Going to go with an efficient (just barely) UNDER for TB. I think McDaniels tries to establish the power running game and protect Tom as much as possible in this one
Pete: With Julian Edelman unable to suit up and missing his 7th straight week, the Patriots need a slot receiver to run their offense. Danny Amendola's status is still in question, so I would not be surprised if we see a lot of Steven Jackson come Sunday. UNDER.
Jordan: This one is tough because we're not certain on the health on Danny Amendola yet. We already know that Edelman is out again so it's between him, Keshawn Martin, and Gronk. However, Miami has nothing left to play for and I'm almost certain that they won't be trying to win because they have no playoff hopes. So I'll go with OVER, especially since this game is for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
James White: Over/Under 55 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: OVER. Still waiting for White to consistently get closer to 12-15 touches instead of the 8-10 he’s been getting, but even with limited usage, he should hit this mark mostly through the air.
Pete: I love what James White has done since getting a bigger role in the Patriots offense. The Pats have learned what James White can do well, such as catching in open space, and set up designed plays for him to excel. This week should be no different. OVER.
Jordan: OVER. White has been a huge part of this offense and has gotten more and more involved in the offense as the season winds down. I see White having a big game against an underachieving Miami defense.
Rob Gronkowski Over/Under 5.5 catches, 80 yards:
Niko: Gronk set the tone the first time around in Miami with a 47 yard catch and run touchdown on the opening drive in October. I think he does it again, with huge first half production. If the running game can get a little traction and set up the play-action pass, Gronk will eat up the seam. Even if it can’t, he’ll hit these numbers. OVER.
Pete: Is it crazy to say that I don't even want Gronk to be out there this week? I know that you can get hurt any week on any given down, but against a Phins team that has nothing to play for, the thoughts of a cheap shot are circling my mind. Nonetheless, is this one even a question anymore? Gronk is the most dominant tight end in all of football. No one in the NFL can cover him. OVER.
Jordan: UNDER on catches, really close to 80 yards. Since Vollmer is out, the Pats may need Gronk to block a little more. It'll be close, especially since Gronk will be Brady's number one on plays going down the field, but with a banged up O-Line, I see Gronk blocking a little more.
Brandon LaFell: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 59 receiving yards?
Niko: In ten games this season, JoJo has hit this catch mark just twice and this yards mark 4 times. His production has had no dependable uptick since the injuries to Edelman/Amendola, etc. I have to say UNDER here in another just average game for Brandon, but I hope I’m wrong. His value was immeasurable during the postseason run last season.
Pete: Butter Fingers has played better as of late, but I still hold my breath when they are passing to him in the backfield on designed screen passes. If the Pats had any depth, I would say bench LaFell and give a younger guy a shot for the rest of the season. However, the Pats don't have that luxury. OVER on catches, UNDER on yards.
Jordan: OVER on catches, UNDER in yards. I've been waiting for Jo Jo to get going this season, but it just isn't happening. This week would be a great time for him to get going, but he hasn't shown me much that says he will have a big game. I'm sure he will have his receptions, but his yards after the catch likely won't be much.
Keyshawn Martin: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 42 receiving yards?
Niko: OVER here for Martin. He’s been a pleasant surprise in recent weeks and without Edelman and an expected limited Danny A, the volume of targets should be there. For more thoughts on Keyshawn, see my last blog.
Pete: Last week, Keshawn Martin hauled in 7 catches for 68 yards and showed everyone why the Pats traded for him from Houston earlier this season. Originally just a special teams guy, Martin has shown his versatility, and he now looks to be the Pats' #1 option, aside from Gronk. OVER on both.
Jordan: OVER on both. I'm loving the way Martin has played since coming to New England. Sure, he's had a couple hiccups on special teams, but let's not forget that he's been a pretty valuable receiver for the Patriots. I see Martin actually having a big game in helping New England capture home field advantage.
Ryan Tannehill: Over/Under 259 yards passing?
Niko: Definitely not a Tannehill guy. It’s no coincidence this team has mailed it in with this stooge as their quarterback. I do think he’ll hit this number though on Sunday, in an inefficient outing. OVER.
Pete: Tough year for Tannehill. Everyone thought that he was going to breakout and be the second best quarterback in the AFC East at the very least, but he has been anything but that this year. Miami is a dumpster fire, and Tannehill's insane contract is one of the biggest reasons. Against a stout Pats defense, even without Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower, I will say UNDER.
Jordan: UNDER. Tannehill struggled against the Pats back in Foxboro, and even though this game is in Miami, I don't see much of an improvement. Plus, Ryan and Butler should do very well covering the Miami receiver threats for most of the game.
Lamar Miller: Over/Under 59 rushing yards?
Niko: Miller ran 9 times for 15 yards the first time around against this Patriots’ front 7. While I don’t think this performance will be as dominant (no Jones, no Hightower, no/limited Chung) I don’t expect Miller to hit this mark. I could see rookie back Jay Ajayi getting an extended look as well, they’ll want to see what they have there going into the offseason. UNDER.
Pete: I hate to say it, but I think that the Dolphins are going to have their way with the Patriots on the ground come Sunday. With Jones and Hightower out, the Pats are without a couple of the best rush defenders on the team. OVER.
Jordan: OVER. Hightower is out, Freeny is out. Those two are pretty big in the run stuff for the Pats, and with them out, Miller is going to get his. I don't see him having a huge game, but he'll certainly eclipse 59 yards, just because of the Patriots players that are out.
Jarvis Landry: Over/Under 7.5 catches, 81 receiving yards?
Niko: This kid is a stud. The Pats did an excellent job containing him Week 8 (6 catches, 71 yards), but I do think he’ll get his this time around. He won’t dominate the football game (esp. vs. Butler), but between a good chunk of yards after the catch and garbage time stats, he’ll hit both these numbers. OVER.
Pete: The Dolphins' MVP. If there was one guy on the 'Phins that you could take and put on the Patriots, mine would this guy. He flat out competes and is an extremely talented wide receiver. If Logan Ryan gets the nod at covering him, and Devin McCourty returns from that high ankle sprain, I will go UNDER, but all signs point to this guy going OVER and having a huge day.
Jordan: UNDER on receptions, right around 81 yards. I'm not sure who will be covering him, presumably Logan Ryan, but I expect the Pats' front seven to be able to get to Tannehill all day and give him fits. In doing so, he'll hold the ball longer and take numerous unnecessary sacks. But, like I said last week for Brandon Marshall, he's the go-to guy and will be the target for Tannehill on every big play the Dolphins will have to take.
Devante Parker: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 59 receiving yards?
Niko: The Dolphins’ 2015 14th overall pick has come on very strong the last few weeks (68 yards per game in last 5), and it appears they’ve found a solid tandem for years to come (along w/Landry). It won’t be pretty or easy against (probably) Logan Ryan, but with plenty of targets, I’ll give him the OVER on yards. Going just UNDER on catches though.
Pete: Against Malcolm Butler? Please, UNDER.
Jordan: UNDER on both. I see Malcolm Butler having a bounce back game this week after getting burned on the game's final play.
Niko: Whoever fills in the Patriot O-line musical chairs on Sunday must hold their own against Miami’s defensive line, namely Ndamukong Suh. Primarily, to keep Brady upright. Also, to open up some running lanes for Jackson/Bolden/White. While they’ve vastly underachieved this season, this unit for the Dolphins is a talented one, and when motivated, can change the course of a game.
Pete: The 'Phins' defensive line vs. the Patriots offensive line. With Sebastian Vollmer out, the Patriots are down yet another lineman against a relatively decent front seven. Can the Pats give TB12 enough time to go through his progressions? Could the Pats perhaps be heavy on the run to keep the Dolphins from just pinning their ears back and rushing Brady? We will see....
Jordan: Pats injured O-Line vs. Miami and their D-Line. Even though they have underachieved, the Dolphins D-Line could really give the Pats' makeshift O-Line fits. The Pats will need to really come to play on the line Sunday in order to keep Brady from getting hit all game.
Niko: Offensively, I think the aforementioned Steven Jackson will show he has enough in the tank to contribute down the stretch. I’ll say 60 rushing yards and a touchdown for SJax. On the defensive side of the ball, with an expected limited Nink and no Chandler Jones, I think we’ll hear rookie D-Lineman Geneo Grissom’s name more than once on Sunday. I’ll say he contributes a sack and another tackle for a loss.
Pete: It pains me to say this, but I think that the Dolphins are going to give the Patriots a game. With a depleted team, the Patriots are going up against a team that is playing with house money; they don't have a set head coach, they aren't going to make the playoffs, and their future sure as hell does not look bright. Nothing would make Miami happier than deteriorating the Patriots' chances at gaining the #1 seed in the AFC.
Jordan: Tom Brady doesn't take a single sack.
Game total: Over/Under 47 Total Points?
Niko: Just barely UNDER. Miami’s offense is a mess and the Pats’ attack is reinventing itself on the fly. Look for New England to give a concerted effort to establish the run and control time of possession.
Pete: UNDER. Both offenses have some serious issues that need to be addressed.
Jordan: OVER. I see the Pats offense doing most of the scoring Sunday, but I still think Miami will be able to put a couple scores up on the board.
Final Prediction:Niko: Patriots 27 Dolphins 13. Preseason is finally over. The road to the Super Bowl will go through Route 1 again. Can’t bleeping wait.
Pete: With a depleted offense, the Pats are going to have to win this game defensively. Can they stop Ryan Tannehill and Jarvis Landry? I think so, but barely. 24-17 Pats.
Jordan: It'll take a lot more work than a lot of people might be expecting, but I see the Patriots blowing Miami out of the water. 34-14 Pats.