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Week 17 Game Plan: Patriots vs. Dolphins

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Patriots will play their final regular season game on the road against the Dolphins.

The Patriots will need Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski in the playoffs.
The Patriots will need Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski in the playoffs.
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots regular season will conclude this Sunday in Miami The Patriots already have a first round bye locked up and could clinch home field advantage if they win against the Dolphins However the Patriots also have some injuries to key players that could return in the postseason. If the Patriots do wind up playing their key players that are still healthy enough to play, Denver to do everything they can to win. The Patriots must prepare for everything the Dolphins could possibly throw their way. I expect Miami to play this like the Super Bowl.

Stop Lamar Miller: The Dolphins offense starts with the running back Lamar Miller. In the Week 8 game, the Patriot shutdown Miller, which causes the Dolphins offense to only score 7 points. The Patriots aren't as healthy up front as they were back then, but the game plan remains the same. If the Dolphins are able to run the ball, that opens up everything else for them on offense. If the Patriots force the Dolphins to be one-dimensional, did it plays right into their hands and the matchup of the Patriots defensive line versus the Dolphins offensive line in pass rushing situations. That match up heavily favors the Patriots.

Stay Alert for Trick Plays: The Dolphins have nothing to play fo after Sunday, which means they will likely empty the playbook. That means weird formations, multiple misdirection plays, or some sort of gadget play. The Patriots defense and special teams have to be on the lookout in case something doesn't line up right. Miami is going to do everything in their power to win this game, because pride and jobs are on the line. The Dolphins have less risk about one of those plays blowing up because losing isn't really much of a consequence to them. If any sort of gadget play is successful, it could possibly change the outcome of the game.

Run the Ball Inside the Tackles Early: One of the ways the Patriots can pressure off the passing game is pounding the ball inside with Steven Jackson. The Patriots offensive line has really struggled in pass protection with both rookie guards in the lineup. If the Patriots can plant seeds into Dolphins defenders about defending the run, that sets up play action and leaves voids for Rob Gronkowski to make catches in between the sucked up Linebacker and the deep safeties. The Dolphins are a lot easier to run against than the Jets because their DL is nowhere near as dominant. The Patriots need to have their run game working to an extent, even though Tom Brady can win a Super Bowl by almost exclusively passing.

Rest Key Players That are Questionable at Best: The Patriots roster is dinged up at basically every position. The Patriots will get key players back for the postseason run. The players who are battling injuries but are healthy enough to play should get managed snaps. If and when the Patriots establish a big enough lead, you pull all the key starters out of the game. The postseason run is more important than this regular season game, but the Patriots should try to win because playing good football going into the postseason is also important.

Final score prediction: 26-21 win for the Patriots.