Dolphins at Patriots: “The Cove” Part 2

Posted: December 22, 2011 by mzyohai in NFL, Patriots, Prediction
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mike: Look at you, sitting pretty. Is that smile on your face because you think you’re finally going to get that vibrator you’ve always wanted for Christmas, or is it because the Pats just had their way with the Denver Tebows?

With an eleventh win, the Patriots finally took the AFC East title. The Jets disaster in Philly wasn’t necessary, but added a little sugar to the victory, I can imagine. And, the Pats are currently in possession of the first seed in the AFC. Not that anything has helped the Patriots in the postseason since 2007, but hey, they must call it home field advantage for some reason.

Nick: I am sitting pretty, but not because of the AFC East title. That’s the ninth set of “Division Champions” gear that the Pats have gotten in the past 11 years. Whoop-de-doo! All I care about is playoff wins. No, I’m feeling good because by my count there are only five teams that truly scare me:

1) The Packers (a lot less frightening, not because of their lone loss, but because their offensive line got hit by the plague)

2) The Saints (please don’t let them play the Pats on turf)

3) The 49ers (whoa, a team with an actual defense!)

4) The Steelers (I hope they have to amputate Big Ben’s left foot and, for the sake of girls everywhere, his penis)

5) The Ravens (I don’t know if that schizophrenic team scares me, actually, it depends on whether Jekyl or Hyde shows up)

As you can see, three of those teams are in the NFC, so I don’t care about them. The Steelers beat us once, but they’re banged up and the Pats offense is running much more smoothly than back in Week 8. As for the Ravens, let me know when Joe Flacco isn’t throwing the ball 40 times, and maybe I’ll be a little more frightened.

Mike: Now, the Patriots have flown home and await a visit from a team that doesn’t truly scare you: the Miami Dolphins. Remember them? That team from Week 1. I can imagine how that reunion will go:

Patriots: Hey, Miami! Gosh, I haven’t seen you in ages! What’s it been? 15 weeks? Damn… well, how ya been?
Dolphins: Been better.
Patriots: So where’s Tony? Bill really wants to say “Hi.”
Dolphins: He… couldn’t make it. Really busy with coaching.
Patriots: Well, good luck today. Good thing this game isn’t another national prime time one, eh? We really gave it to you last time.
Dolphins: You’re going to rack-up another 500-yard game on us aren’t you?
Patriots: Yeah. Just close your eyes, bite your lip… it will all just seem like a bad dream when its over.

But the Dolphins are not the same ones from The Cove that took the field in Week 1. This team might have enough of a bad taste in their mouth from all the beatings they’ve taken from the AFC East to want to screw up the Pats’ run for 1st seed in the AFC. So how’s this one going down?

Nick: I have no doubt the Patriots are going all out to win their final two games and secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Better to play in cold, crappy weather with cheers from your own fans rather than in front of a bunch of Terrible Towels or tens of thousands of Joe Flacco Support Group members. Belichick and Brady will be merciless.

I know the Miami defense has shown up in a big way in recent weeks, but I’m not buying it. Their string of success came against KC, Washington, Buffalo (twice), and Oakland. They’re somehow third in the league stopping the run, but the Patriots don’t really run the ball except as a courtesy to Tom Brady’s throwing shoulder. Although I like that Danny Woodhead has been bursting through the line at 5 yards a pop. With the New England passing game, that’s like icing on top of the icing already on the cake.

The real question is (as always with this team), how will the defense hold up?

Mike: When you have Tom Brady on your offense, the weekly concern is rarely related to the offense.

Nick: Against the Broncos, the Pats D looked like they were playing in quicksand in the first quarter as the Broncos romped to 167 yards, oftentimes untouched. That led to 17 points on their first three possessions, before the defense suddenly tightened up after some much-needed adjustments. So will the rejuvenated Reggie Bush have a field day, or will the Patriots finally take a stand and give their offense a break?

Mike: The Dolphins simply don’t have the offensive threat to overwhelm the Patriots’ defense. As difficult as it is not to be able to punish the Patriots’ secondary, the Miami offense has risen to the challenge… and sucked enough to be a fair match for the New England backs.

Matt Moore is injured, but probable. Brandon Marshall is dangerous and incredibly talented, but he’s made three times more receptions than the next best receiver on the team. With Reggie Bush aging and already once shut down by the Patriots (he went 38 yards on 11 carries… also known as “not good”), I think it’s fair to say that this offense is not too scary.

The Dolphins are actually a fantastic team for the Patriots to run over. Not only because by most accounts, they’re miserable. But check this out: the Dolphins’ passing offense starts hot and dies by the fourth quarter. The rushing attack is very similar. Their defense does the exact opposite: it starts slowly and finishes strong. This is the ideal situation for a team trying to cruise into the playoffs.

Nick: I know it seems like an injured Matt Moore and Brandon Marshall isn’t much to challenge the Pats defense, but this is a secondary that gave up over 400 passing yards to Chad Henne in Week 1. Chad Henne isn’t good. Reggie Bush has only come on as of late, so a random sample from 15 weeks ago doesn’t mean anything to me. He also happens to be just 26 years old. If that’s old, I’m three years away from being a geezer. Seeing as I won’t accept that, I’m just going to write off your opinion on the Dolphins offense.

Mike: With the Steelers and Ravens down one game, this one might seal the deal: the road to Indianapolis goes through New England.

Nick: I think it’s safe to say I fully expect a Patriots win this week. I only hope the Pats can take the #1 seed, and then don’t have to face the Steelers or Ravens as the #5 seed. I will be rooting extremely hard for the Bengals or the Jets or whoever ends up being the #6 seed to win, provided the Pats get home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Mike: Now that we’ve agreed that the Pats will likely take this game, I want to hear your thoughts on Chad Ochocinco. One game and one touchdown aren’t much to celebrate or fawn over, but it is a good sign. Playoff teams are thinking about how to stop the offensive threats that have helped get New England this far. So can Brady and Ochocinco get on the same page so that when the playoffs arrive, they have an ace up their sleeve? Or will #85 become a Braylon Edwards case: a healthy pre-game scratch?

Nick: I thought Ochocinco played pretty well last week filling in for an injured Deion Branch. He only had the single catch, but he also landed a couple of solid blocks to spring some big gains downfield. I was legitimately happy for the guy when he finally scored that elusive touchdown.  The problem all season long with Ochocinco has been his ability to know the playbook and be in the right place to run the right route. It seems like he might actually be getting comfortable after being on the field for 54 snaps last week, and I can only hope he will give the Patriots another receiving threat moving forward.

He won’t ever be the next Braylon Edwards, though, because by all accounts he’s a hard worker and buys into the Patriot way, instead of getting DUIs and doing other dumb things like the former Jet.

Mike: Is the ‘Patriot way,’ where you put on your UGGs and start singing “Walk This Way?”

Nick: Where do you come up with this shit, and why does it always have to be UGG-related? Since we agree the Pats will come away with a win, let’s put on our predictor hats and come up with a score. What’s your prediction?

Mike: If we’re putting on our predictor hats, can we please predict whether or not Ochocinco gets another TD this week?

Nick: No.

Mike: You’re no fun.

Nick: No, I meant he won’t have a TD catch.

Mike: Well, Reggie Bush will certainly break through for his first 1,000-yard season of his career, but he won’t do enough to make his team any good this week. Then again, Tom Brady isn’t likely to throw for 500+ yards this time around, either.

I still like the Pats in this one… Even though my shirt says that I root for the Jets and anyone who plays the Patriots, Dolphins, and Bills. Should I root for a draw, then? Well, I’ll root for it, but my predictor hat is not going to give into my fantasies that easily.

Garbage time scoring will make this seem much closer than it actually was. Final Score: Pats 28, Dolphins 24.

Nick: Even with any garbage time points, there’s no way this game will be that close. After lighting up the league for six straight 30-point performances, this won’t be the week that they fall short of that mark. The offense is firing on all cylinders: Rob Gronkowski appears unstoppable, Aaron Hernandez just had a career day (9 catches, 129 yards, 1 TD) in an already solid season and Wes Welker is still the league-leader in receiving yards.

I’ll take my chances with the Brady Bunch against a team that just underwent a coaching change and has had a pretty cushy schedule. Another dominant win for the Pats puts them in the driver’s seat for home field advantage in the playoffs. Final score: Patriots 38, Dolphins 19

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