The Patriots, 5-2, are coming off of a loss to their division rivals, the New York Jets. The Dolphins, who sit at .500 at 3-3, are in the midst of a three-game slide, having most recently dropped to the Bills in week seven.
For both teams, today's game is an important marker of progress, and will set the tone for each heading into the second half of the season.
A loss for the Dolphins would drop them to 3-4 and potentially dead last in the division depending on what were to happen in the Bills' game. After starting the season 3-0, Miami is out to prove that their recent losing streak is more of a fluke than their hot start.
The Patriots on the other hand, won their first four games of the season, but have dropped two of their last three. Even with tight end Rob Gronkowski returning to action last week, New England could not generate much positive momentum on offense, particularly on third downs. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is banged up, but this has quickly turned into a "prove-it" game for Brady. If he struggles again, the spotlight on his potential decline will grow even further.
On offense, the Patriots expect to have their most complete line-up of the season as reports have indicated that receiver Danny Amendola has been cleared to return from his concussion. That gives Brady Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Gronkowski to throw passes to - his most dynamic trio of receivers this season. Perhaps this also helps to take the pressure off rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins who can now just go out and perform rather than be relied upon.
Defensively, Miami should look to take a page out of the Jets' game plan and attack the Patriots' defense up the middle with the ground attack. The Dolphins really haven't committed to the run with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. However, both are coming off of strong games against the Bills, and this is seemingly an area where the Bills can take advantage of the Patriots with Tommy Kelly out once again.
Here are the full details for today's match-up:
Game Time: 1:00 PM ET
TV Schedule: CBS, regional audience (TV MAPS HERE)
Streaming: After the game via NFL Game Rewind
Dolphins Coverage: The Phinsider