Photos by Ron Elkman, USA Today Network
After a tough loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Miami Dolphins look to bounce back this week against perennial juggernaut New England.
The biggest storyline of this game is Tom Brady being suspended, but as the Patriots showed last week against the Arizona Cardinals, they can win without him. The Patriots were also without Rob Gronkowski, who is more likely to play in week 2 against Miami.
Both the Patriots and Dolphins week 1 matchups came down to the wire, but with different outcomes. New England secured the victory after Arizona missed a 47-yard field goal with less than a minute to go.
Miami scored a touchdown on an 86-yard drive to go ahead 10-6 late in the fourth quarter. However, Seattle scored a touchdown on the very next drive with 31 seconds remaining and won the game.
Miami’s defense looked much better than expected, which is a positive heading into New England. However, the offense was still stagnant, totaling just 214 yards of total offense. Even though it was against one of the league’s best defenses, it’s still concerning.
According to Pro Football Focus, quarterback Ryan Tannehill was pressured on nearly 50 percent of his drop backs. Tannehill was an unremarkable 16-for-29 with 186 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was also sacked five times.
Against a premiere defense in Arizona, New England only gave up two sacks and had a relatively productive day on offense behind Jimmy Garoppolo’s 72.7 completion percentage, 264 yards and a touchdown. It was simply methodical.
- Probably the most difficult player to guard in the NFL, Gronkowski is on track to play against Miami. His addition makes New England a completely different offense.
- DeVante Parker practiced Wednesday, though it is still unknown if he will play. Parker would be a huge boost to a receiving corps that couldn’t get much separation against Seattle.
- Miami’s last game against New England, week 17 of last season, resulted in a Miami victory that prevented the Patriots from getting home field advantage in the playoffs.
- After the coaches sent Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi a strong message by deactivating him for last week’s game, it appears that he and the team are wiping the slate clean. It’s still unknown what Ajayi’s role will be in week 2.
- Though it doesn’t have many household names, New England’s defense is stout against the run and pass. It shouldn’t be as difficult for Miami as playing a loaded Seahawks defense, but it still won’t be easy.
- The Dolphins are one of four teams to start the season with back-to-back away games. The other three are Green Bay, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay.
- Miami was the only team to have two safeties ranked in the top-10 in Pro Football Focus’s week 1 ratings. Interim starting center Anthony Steen also received the highest grade on the offensive line for Miami.
It’ll take a lot for Miami to go into New England and win, despite the absence of Tom Brady. New England made Arizona look like an average team.
This will certainly be a good test for Miami’s resilience. It’d be easy for the Dolphins to be out of sorts after losing in the final minutes last week.
The Patriots have shown that even with player absences, the overall team system works.
The one thing Miami can use to its advantage is the relative anonymity of its schemes. Miami has one game on tape with its current coaches and might be able to catch New England by surprise in some aspects.
However, the Patriots are too much of a well-oiled machine to take on, especially when they’re at home.
New England 28
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. Sunday—Tampa Bay is coming off an impressive victory against the Atlanta Falcons. Jameis Winston was on fire, tossing four touchdown passes and throwing for 281 yards. Second-year linebacker Kwon Alexander racked up 17 tackles and a sack.
Arizona lost a heartbreaker against New England and is looking for redemption.
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers, 4:25 p.m. Sunday—Jacksonville’s late rally came up short against Green Bay last week, while the Kansas City Chiefs beat San Diego in the largest comeback win in team history.
The Chargers lost starting receiver Keenan Allen, but were lifted by the play of running backs Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead.
The loser of this game will start the year with a dreaded 0-2 record.
Week 2 Game Picks
2016 record: 11-5
New York Jets ✔ at Buffalo Bills
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers ✔
Baltimore Ravens ✔ at Cleveland Browns
Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions ✔
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans ✔
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots ✔
New Orleans Saints ✔ at New York Giants
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers ✔
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins ✔
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals ✔
Seattle Seahawks ✔ at Los Angeles Rams
Indianapolis Colts ✔ at Denver Broncos
Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders ✔
Jacksonville Jaguars ✔ at San Diego Chargers
Green Bay Packers ✔ at Minnesota Vikings
Philadelphia Eagles ✔ at Chicago Bears