Right now, we are at 6-4. Right in the thick of things in the Playoff Race. We've beaten the Patriots over in their house already this season, and have also come away with some other very impressive wins; such as at home against San Diego, in Denver, and at home against the-then very formidable Bills. But this weekend folks; this Sunday afternoon, we will find out just who the 2008 Miami Dolphins are. This is the biggest game the Dolphins have had, probably since 2002, when New England beat us in that final week of the season, helping the Jets get in, and us ending our season in disappointment.
This will be the toughest game of the season thus far. The Patriots will be looking to rid their, and everybody else’s minds, of the domination that was the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. They'll be looking to get back into the mix in the playoff race, as with a loss they stare at 6-6 right in the face, with a game in Pittsburgh next Sunday. This game is a must win for them, and a game you know they want badly. Belichick juat does not lose twice in one season to the same team.
The last time a Patriot QB made his starting debut in Miami: Tom Brady back in 01'. Result: 30-10 Miami win. Brady was 12-24, just 86 yards passing, and got sacked 4 times. Lamar Smith ran the football 29 times for over 140 yards that game; something that I think should happen this Sunday, except with different personnel in there. Let's give Matt Cassel the same warm welcoming we gave Brady back in 2001.
Just throwing this out there, not that it means much, but Cassel's career numbers in Dolphin Stadium go something like this: 2 for 5, 12 yards, 1 INT (pick 6).
I will guarantee all of you something though. That is not the Matt Cassel we will be facing this Sunday. Cassel has matured tremendously over the past few weeks. He has grown more confident; in himself, and the guys around him. He's grown more composed in the pocket, and is looking more like Brady then the Cassel we are used to seeing. Now, just to be clear, I'm not saying Cassel is at the same level as Brady...not that anybody is...
But getting to my point; Cassel has turned into a fine QB, who has been learning under Belichick and Brady for 4 years now. He knows the offense, he knows what Belichick wants of him, and he knows how to approach games. He's seen the best do it for, again, 4 years now. Cassel has a great core of receivers around him in Moss, Welker, Gaffney, and Watson who is really emerging out of the TE position, and of course, Faulk out of the backfield. The running game, while being plagued with injury, has been getting better each week it seems, and you can attribute that to the offensive line improving and getting healthier. It seems that them and Cassel have started to get their timing down.
Defensively, the Patriots have quite a few key injuries. Adalius Thomas, Ty Warren, and obviously Rodney Harrison (who will miss the entire season), are all out for Sunday's game. With all those injuries to big run defenders for NE, you are inclined to believe that the Dolphins game plan will revolve heavily around the running game. But how much of that will be under the Wild Cat?
We have been discussing on the forums that Dan Henning seems like he is holding something back. That he is waiting to use something that we have not seen before. Mr. Henning, if this is so, this is the Sunday to use it/them. Belichick will be devoting a lot of time to defending the Wild Cat. However, he cannot gameplan against what he has not seen yet.
Something that I think needs to be attacked, either then the Patriots front 7, is Ellis Hobbs. It seems as though he has not progressed against the deep ball. Quite the opposite. I live up near Boston, and get to watch plenty of Patriot football; and let me tell you, it seems that everytime they attack Hobbs vertically, he commits gets flagged for Pass Interference. While our vertical game is...limited...I think that we need to try our best to utilize Ginn's speed, and take a couple of shots down the field.
We won't even go into special teams, as I think we all know what needs to improve there...everything *cough cough cough*...This will be a great football game; for not only NE and Miami fans, but football fans across America. Hopefully more so for Miami fans though...;-).
This will be a hard nosed game. I think both teams will come in prepared. Both teams know that this is a must win, and for Miami, this could put us tied for first place, with New York playing the undefeated Titans. It's extremely hard to beat New England twice in a season...nearly impossible. Can Miami do it? We'll see. This will be a true test of character, and heart for this Miami team. How bad do they want it? We know the vets who were here last year want it petty darn badly, but what about the rookies, and the other newcomers? This team has a chance to pull off one of the biggest, if not the biggest, turn-arounds in NFL history...American sports history for that matter...
Hopefully Miami comes out on top, and if they do, I think that we can start seriously discussing our Post Season chances. Right now anything can happen. We all know what has happened to Buffalo. We saw what happened to Dallas (although it seems as though they have turned it around). If we lose this game, we're at 6-5, and our chances all of a sudden become bleak. If we win, however, we could have very well put New England out of the race, leaving Pittsburgh the opportunity to put the icing on the cake, and finish them off. And we, at 7-4, will be going into St. Louis, possibly the 6th or even 5th seed in the AFC.
We’ve played some big games, but this will be by far the biggest thus far.
This has been a heck of a ride folks...enjoy the rest of it. This has been an unbelievable success story no matter what happens from here on out!