SUMMARY AND SCORE PREDICTION:
This is a game the Patriots should win, but so was week 17 last year when the Dolphins took advantage of an overly conservative offensive game plan from New England to force the Patriots to travel to Denver for the AFC Championship game. In that game the Patriots could not decide whether to play their starters or rest them and instead got stuck in the middle and ended up building Miami’s confidence and exposing Tom Brady to some big hits.
This weekend the Patriots will likely be without tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Dont’a Hightower. They are unlikely to have left tackle Nate Solder and right guard Jonathan Cooper. Quarterback Tom Brady and Rob Ninkovich are still suspended and the Patriots are certainly opening the season at home at less than 100%.
That said, like last week in Arizona, the Patriots have enough talent on both sides of the ball to pull out a victory even without their injured and suspended players. However, they have a lot of work to do in order to go to 2-0. The Dolphins are dangerous but the Patriots should be able to limit the Miami offense and still move the ball consistently against a tough front seven.
Miami may keep it close early on, but expect the Patriots to wear down the Dolphins and pull away in the second half on Sunday afternoon.
FINAL SCORE: NEW ENGLAND 24 – MIAMI 16
(Last week prediction: Arizona 21 – New England 20) 0-1 for the season (1-0 vs point spread)