This Patriots team is like a cat, they have nine lives. It looked like their season was over after the debacle in Las Vegas, but they were still mathematically alive. We thought they’d have to win out against the Bengals, Dolphins and Bills in order to have a shot and surely Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled away any chance of the playoffs at the Bengals’ five-yard line, right? Nope! The Dolphins loss to the Packers on Christmas Day not only kept the Patriots alive but they also control their own destiny. Beat the Dolphins and Bills and they are in the playoffs. First order of business is beating the Dolphins for the first time since Cam Newton’s first game in New England. Here are the key matchups to watch on Sunday afternoon.
Key matchups for Patriots in week seventeen
Secondary vs. Tyreek Hill/Jaylen Waddle
It may seem like the Patriots have received a break with Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ruled out with a concussion but a look at the injury report says otherwise. To say the Patriots secondary is banged up would be an understatement. Jalen Mills and Jack Jones have not played the past two weeks and have not practiced at all this week and now Marcus Jones has joined them with a concussion. That leaves the secondary thin with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle coming to town.
Hill ranks second in the NFL with 1,632 receiving yards while Waddle ranks seventh with 1,260. The duo combined for 12 receptions, 163 yards and a touchdown in week one’s 20-7 victory over the Patriots and will be a tough matchup despite the loss of Tagovailoa. Jonathan Jones, Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade will certainly have their hands full and could determine the team’s playoff fate.