2. Patriots Rushing Attack vs Dolphins D-Line
Again, the Patriots had so many injures last year that their offensive line was constantly changing, they had multiple starting running backs at different points of the year, and teams were more apt to defend the run against them given how bad Cam Newton was with his arm.
And again, everything’s different in 2021. The Patriots have beefed up their line to make it one of the biggest in the entire NFL. Trent Brown is now the starting right tackle and Michael Onwenu will likely be entrenched at left guard and have a more solidified role as he takes over for Joe Thuney. The second-year man out of Michigan adds an extra 60 pounds to the position, too.
Damien Harris took the starting running back job and ran with it in 2020 before injuries derailed his season, but he’ll be eager to make an impact after missing both of these matchups last year.
As for the Dolphins, they lost Godchaux, one of their reliable run-stuffers, to the Pats this offseason. Even with him for five games last year before he was sidelined with an injury, they had the 16th-best run defense in the NFL. When all was said and done, they allowed nearly 1,900 yards on the ground. Not terrible, but certainly not good.
They did import Adam Butler from the Pats and have first-round pick Jaelen Phillips ready to roll, but we wouldn’t call those overhaul additions by any means. If this is essentially the same unit from last year, which was solid, the Patriots shouldn’t have a problem tiring them out while ignoring their star-studded secondary for a good portion of the afternoon.
Remember, the Patriots were fourth in the NFL with 146.6 rushing yards per game in 2020. It’s going to get better, and the Dolphins didn’t make any adjustments to combat that.