The Patriots are 6-0 coming off a very hard-fought win against the Jets. The Patriots execution was a bit lacking at critical points in the game, but found a way to win. Now on a short week, the Patriots face the 3-3 Miami Dolphins at home on Thursday Night Football. Personally, I hate the idea of TNF but there isn't much I can do more than complain about it. Here's what the Patriots need to do to beat the Dolphins and take control of the AFC East.
1. Contain Jarvis Landry: Landry is the Dolphins' top weapon and is very much like Julian Edelman in terms of athletic ability and role in the offense. Landry will line up inside and outside, which really tests the Patriots coverage of him. The Patriots should put Logan Ryan on him in coverage. Ryan should be able to match up with Landry because Landry is not a vertical threat and Ryan can match Landry's quickness.
2. Danny Amendola Must Step Up for the Patriots Again: Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman will naturally attract coverage when opponents game plan against the Patriots. With Brandon LaFell working his way back into the flow of the offense, it's critical that Amendola continue to step up for the team. Amendola has proven to be a very reliable target for Tom Brady since his arrival in 2013 and has a history for making big catches for the team already. Unless the Patriots game plan is more Blount Force, Amendola is going to play a huge role in this game as the 3rd WR.
3. The Patriots Must Get Off to a Fast Start: In the game against the Jets, the Patriots had an opportunity on their opening possession to quickly take control of the game following a turnover. Instead they settled for a field goal and the Jets never felt they were out of the game. The Jets are a more mentally tough team than the Dolphins, who started the year 1-3 under Joe Philbin. The Dolphins have played two of the worst teams in the NFL, who have a 3-10 combined record. On the other side, the Patriots really haven't seized control of the game until the 2nd half. Only the Jacksonville game was when the Patriots had their opponent mentally checking out before halftime. If the Patriots go up by 2 scores early, it may cause the Dolphins to do the same.
If this game was on a Sunday, I'd probably guess the Patriots would win handily here. Since it's not, the Patriots will have a tougher fight against the Dolphins. The Dolphins have responded well to their new coaches' K.I.S.S. philosophy, but at the same time they beat the Redskins, Titans, and Texans, who are all in the bottom 3rd of the league. Thursday games tend to be sloppy, so penalties and poor execution will keep the Dolphins in the game longer than we'd hope. My final score prediction is Patriots 31, Dolphins 22.