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New England Patriots Links 10/04/10 - Monday Night Football: Patriots At Dolphins

Andy Hart offers a six-pack of pointers for the Patriots to beat the Dolphins tonight.

Offensive balance – While the defense focuses on keeping the Dolphins from being balanced, I think the Patriots need to balance it out offensively. We know this is a pass-first offense, but it can’t be a pass-always offense. With Fred Taylor missing the week of practice the onus may once again fall on BenJarvus Green-Ellis. I thought his effort against Buffalo was his best work as a Patriot. Let him build on that. Even if the running game has to come from a variety of bodies, as was the case to the tune of 200 yards against the Bills, New England has to run it well again. Miami is allowing opponents 4.5 yards a carry on the season. Open up the passing game, by giving the ground game enough chance to share the load.

From road worriers to road warriors – "We’ve got to win a meaningful game on the road. If we’re going to be a good team, we’ve got to start winning on the road." That’s what Brady had to say after last Sunday’s win over the Bills. He’s right. The Patriots have failed miserably on the road over the last year-plus, the only win coming down to the wire in an onside kick situation in Buffalo last December. Because of that the Patriots were kind of a middling team a year ago and may be going down the same road road this time around. A win this week on the road in a tough environment in the division would go a long way toward changing the perception of what the Patriots are and can be. The players, like Brady, know that. The fans know it. The media knows it. But talking about winning on the road and actually closing out road wins are two different things. The proof is in the game day pudding.

Ian Rapoport has five questions for the Patriots against Miami tonight.

Can the Patriots’ much-maligned secondary wake up against Miami? The loss of cornerback Leigh Bodden to a season-ending shoulder injury is looming larger than ever. His protege Darius Butler will begin the game on the bench as he tries to right himself after a brutal start. That means former special teamer Kyle Arrington and rookie first-rounder Devin McCourty will attempt to clamp down on Dolphins star Brandon Marshall, sidekick Davone Bess and their brethren. Marshall is the NFL’s fifth-leading receiver, and his physicality is unmatched. Can McCourty and Arrington hang with him to limit his touches? If not, it will be long night.

Christopher Price tells us ten things worth keeping an eye on tonight in Miami.

Randy Moss on Vontae Davis: The best individual matchup of the night. In the first contest between the two teams last year, Moss was dominant, catching six passes for 147 yards and a touchdown in a 27-17 win. But the Illinois product, then a rookie, evened the score the second time around. After getting scorched for a 58-yard touchdown in the first quarter, he limited Moss to just one more catch (a meaningless eight-yard gain) and came away with an interception in a 22-21 Dolphins victory.