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The surging Miami Dolphins, 3-3 and coming off a convincing 44-26 win over the Houston Texans, travel to Foxboro to take on division rival, defending Super Bowl Champion and 6-0 New England Patriots on Thursday Night on CBS and the NFL Network.  The Patriots are coming off a tough division win over the New York Jets in Foxboro 30-23. The game is a 8:25 kickoff.

 

The question everyone has right now in regards to Miami is are they legit.  Some have said that the Dolphins have beaten the Titans and Texans, 2 struggling football teams.  And while this is true, the Dolphins not only beat those teams, they DOMINATED those teams.  The question for all will be answered in the game Thursday Night against the undefeated Patriots.

 

Let's take a look at the teams and how they will matchup.

 

Offensively, after the last 2 weeks, the Dolphins offense has taken major steps forward, generating 366.0 yards of total offense, which ranks 10th in the NFL.  The Dolphins are generating 248.5 yards in the passing game and 117.5 yards in the run game.  This ranks 13th & 14th respectively in the NFL.  Miami is scoring 24.5 points per game, ranking 9th in the NFL.  They face a New England defense giving up 358.7 yards per game, which ranks 15th in the NFL.  The Patriots are giving up 248.3 yards in the passing game, and are giving up 110.3 yards per game in the run game.  New England is giving up 21.0 points per game, which ranks 12th in the NFL.

 

When you face an offensive team as potent as the Patriots, you know you are going to have to score points.  QB Ryan Tannehill is coming off a 18-19, 4 touchdown performance last Sunday.  RB Lamar Miller, missing in action the 1st 4 games, had 14 carries for 175 yards last week against the Texans, after gaining over 100 yards the prior week against the Titans.  Both will have to have big games for the Dolphins Thursday Night, along with the rest of the skill position personnel.  I preach this all the time, but especially against a team like the Patriots, a balanced attack will be key.  You don't want the Patriots to be able to concentrate on one aspect of your offense because they have taken away one of the cogs.  The offensive line has been ROCK SOLID that past few weeks, and their improved play must continue.  Physical, balanced, smart offensive football is what the Dolphins will need Thursday Night.  Miami has had success against the Patriots, and I think they will again.

 

Defensively, the Dolphins come in giving up 369.8 yards in total offense, ranking 21st in the NFL.  The Dolphins are giving up 240.5 yards in the passing game, and are giving up 129.3 yards per game in the run game.  That ranks 14th & 30th in the NFL.  Miami is giving up 22.8 points per game, which ranks 15th in the NFL.  The Patriots come in generating 410.8 yards per game, which ranks 2nd in the NFL.  The Patriots are producing 327.2 yards per game in the passing game, and are averaging 83.7 yards in the run game.  The Patriots rank 2nd & 31st respectively in those catagories.  New England is scoring 35.5 points per game, which leads the NFL.

 

You look at those stats and you realize the task that the defense has in front of them.  Futre Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady is off to a blazing start and he has weapons around him.  TE Rob Grownkowski is the best in football, and in WR Julian Edleman, Danny Amendola and now Bradon LaFell back, the Patriots have very compontent wide receivers.  RB Dion Lewis gives them a RB that is good in the passing game and LeGarette Blount is the big power back.  THE KEY to this game defensively for Miami is the pass rush, PERIOD.  The Dolphins beat the Patriots in Miami last year because they constantly hit Brady and had constant pressure on him.  Pressure not only off the edge, but pressure up the middle.  Miami will need to use their depth along the defensive line to stay fresh, because with the Patriots, they don't mind throwing the ball all game long.  The run game for the Patriots has struggled, and the Dolphins cannot let them have any run game.  Miami MUST stop the run game.  CB Jamar Taylor will be tested, as will all of the defensive secondary.  They will have to have a solid game along with the linebackers.  The defense as a whole must play a solid game to have a chance against this Patriots offense.

 

Miami can answer one BIG question on Thursday Night against their AFC East rival.  Are these Dolphins for REAL.

 

 

The Good

 

Let's start with Ryan Tannehill's perfect day. Well, almost perfect. He did have one incompletion. But he did finish with a 158.3 rating, which is yes... perfect. He had 4 TDs, no INTs and completed 94.7% of his passes. So while he only had 19 attempts, he was highly efficient and accurate with the ball.

 

Lamar Miller had another huge game, this time rushing for 175 yards and an 85 yard touchdown. Miller had only 14 carries but made the most of them, gashing a pretty stout Houston defense. And just for kicks, Miller also contributed 3 catches for 61 yards, including a 54 yard touchdown on a beautifully executed screen pass.

 

Jarvis Landry had the play of the day, catching a 14 yard out and turning it into a 50 yard touchdown in which he made virtually the entire Texans defense miss. At one point during the play he was surrounded by 5 Texans defenders and somehow made them all miss. Landry has that never say die attitude and fights for every yard. He seems to be becoming the heart and soul of this offense. He finished the day with 5 catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Rishard Matthews also had a huge 53 yard touchdown that really set the tone for the rest of the game. Matthews took a 7 yard slant and ran past 3 defenders for the long touchdown.

 

Overall, the offense had 503 total yards, including 248 yards on the ground.

 

Ndamukong Suh finally had his coming out party, helping set the line of scrimmage for the defense. Suh had 6 tackles, 3 for loss and two sacks on back to back plays. He also had 3 QB hits.

 

Cameron Wake continued his hot play with 2 more strip sacks.

 

Reshad Jones led the defense with 8 tackles and also contributed 2 passes defensed and a pick 6.

 

Overall, the defense allowed 322 total yards including 71 rushing yards. However, in the first half the Dolphins defense pitched a shutout and forced 5 consecutive three and outs to start the game. By the time the Dolphins were up 35-0, the Houston Texans still had zero total yards of offense.

 

The Bad

 

Not much bad in a game like this, but Damien Williams did have a fumble that helped breathe some life back into the Texans in the second half.

 

The Ugly

 

I think the Dolphins took the foot off the gas a little early. Yes, they were up 41-0 at halftime, but the Texans were able to move the ball in the second half, scoring 26 points to the Dolphins 3. The Dolphins came out of the locker room running the ball to try to run the clock, a little too early in my opinion. The Dolphins should have continued doing what they were doing. Why stop something that is working? I'll chalk it up to Dan Campbell's inexperience, but next time don't let up until well into the fourth quarter. You never stop executing your gameplan right out of halftime. No lead is too big.

 

Overall

 

Impressive first half performance by the Dolphins, who finally beat the Texans and looked like a different team. Dan Campbell says he has these guys buying into what he's selling. Man, what he is selling must be good because this has looked like a completely different team the past two weeks.

 

But, things change now as the New England Patriots are next, are undefeated, are the defending Super Bowl champs and are mad at the world again. This is not a team you just outmuscle, you need to out think them too.

 

The good news is the Dolphins seem to have a bit of New England's cryptonite. They seem to be able to get to the QB with four on a consistent basis. If they can do that to Brady, it will be an interesting game.

The 2-3 Miami Dolphins, coming off their most impressive performance of the year in a 38-10 domination of the Tennessee Titans, take on the 2-4 Houston Texans, coming off a 31-20 win in Jacksonville, in a 1:00 kickoff in South Florida.  The game is a 1:00 kickoff on CBS.

 

The Dan Campbell Era got off to a BIG start, as the Dolphins came out against the Titans and played like the team most Dolphins fans thought they would see all year long.  Miami was intense, physical and played with a purpose.  Can the Dolphins maintain this level of play?  That is a question that will be answered on Sunday.

 

Let's take a look at the teams and see how they match up.

 

Miami comes into the game offensively generating 338.6 yards per game, which ranks 24th in the NFL.  Miami is putting up 247.2 yards per game passing, coming in at 16th in the NFL, and are generating 91.4 yards per game rushing, coming in at 26th.  Miami is scoring 20.6 points a game, which ranks 24th.  They will be facing a Texans defense that is allowing 348.8 yards per game, which ranks 11th in the NFL.  The Texans are allowing 239.8 passing yards per game while allowing 109.0 yards on the ground, coming in at 13th & 16th respectively.  Houston will be without starting CB Kareem Jackson and starting OLB Jadeveon Clowney.  The one player that will be playing that the Dolphins will need to be concerned about is 2014 Defensive Player of the year, DE J.J Watt.  The offensive line played their best game of the season by far, and wiil have their hands full with Watt and DT Vince Wolfork.

 

The key for this offense will be the same formula used in the game last week against the Titans, a balanced offensive attack.  29 pass attempts and 32 runs is the formula for success for the Dolphins.  QB Ryan Tannehill was very sharp and accurate for the most part, going 22-29 for 254 yards.  RB Lamar Miller finally got touches, and finished with 113 yards on 19 carries and a 5.9 per carry average.  Getting Lamar going early is important for Miami in this game.  Expect a lot of 2 TE sets with TE's Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims.  Sims was a welcomed site, as he is a very good blocker and has become a very good pass catching TE.  He compliments Cameron well.  If the Dolphins can use the same formula as they did in the Titans game, the offense should have a good day.

 

Defensively, the Dolphins come in allowing 379.4 yards per game, which ranks 24th in the NFL.  The Dolphins are allowing 238.4 yards per game passing, 141.0 yards per game rushing.  That ranks 12th and 31st respectively.  The Dolphins are allowing 22.2 points per game, which ranks 12th.  They are facing a Texans offense that generates 393.8 yards of total offense, which ranks 6th in the NFL.  The Texans  are putting up 297.8 yards per game via the passing game, 96.0 yards via the run game.  This ranks 4th and 23rd respectively.  The Texans are scoring 21.3 points per game, which ranks 21st.  The Dolphins defense we saw Sunday was an aggressive, attacking unit.  The Dolphins came into the game with only 1 sack.  They had 6 sacks in the game Sunday, 4 by DE Cameron Wake.  Miami had 2 interceptions in the game, one returned for touchdown by S Reshard Jones.  They face journeyman QB Brian Hoyer, and the game plan should not change, as he is not very mobile, unlike Marcos Mariotta of the Titans.  The Texans did get back RB Arian Foster a few weeks ago, and he is good in the run game and in the pass game out of the backfield.  The Texans also feature WR DeAndre Hopkins, who has exploded on to the scene for the Texans.

 

Once again, if the Dolphins can repeat the game plan from last week, they will have success.  Miami does need to be more concerned with Foster in the pass game, and Hopkins is dangerous.  The linebackers will need to play well in this game against Foster.  But once again, Hoyer is a journeyman QB who is capable of playing good stretches of football, but is also prone to making mistakes.  Put the same type of pressure on Hoyer as the Dolphins did against Mariotta, then I like the chances of the defense having a good day.

 

Miami wants and needs to continue the good play they showed last week, and need this win to get back to .500.  They face New England on a Thursday Night Game, so that makes this game even more important.  Add to these facts, the Dolphins are 0-7 against the Texans.

 

Dan Campbell spoke of how this team has come off of big wins before and come back the following week and laid an egg.  The Dolphins will be back at home in a game they need very badly.  Time to show that last week was not a fluke.

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