Here are the players that caught our attention from the New England Patriots 35-14 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Winner: QB Tom Brady
Brady finished the day 25 of 33 (75.8%) for 276 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 130.4. Falcons QB Matt Ryan just Anything You Can Do’d Brady with a 331 yard, 4 touchdown, 139.9 passer rating performance, which should be enough for Ryan to win the MVP trophy; his season-long passer rating of 117.1 is just a smidgen behind Brady’s incredible 2007 season.
That’s okay. Brady has led the Patriots to an 11-1 record over his 12 games and the 1st overall seed in the AFC. The Patriots have the best record in the NFL and are set up to make another deep playoff push. The Patriots have failed to record 12 or more wins in just three seasons since 2003 (2005, 2008, 2009). This is the most dominant dynasty in NFL history and Brady just put the cherry on top of the second-best season in his career. The sky is the limit.
Winner: WR Julian Edelman
There was a stretch of time where we were concerned about Edelman earlier in the season. Edelman had foot surgery over the offseason and appeared to re-injure his foot in week 5, as he was placed back on the injury report. From week 3 to week 8, right before the bye, Edelman averaged less than 40 yards per game and he was struggling to cut and make players miss in the open field.
Since the bye week, Edelman has 766 yards in 8 games, or 95.8 yards per game. You know how many receivers have more yards than Edelman over that time? None. Zero. Edelman has been the most productive receiver in the NFL over the second half of the season.
Winner: WR Michael Floyd
It’s not often that a player is cut for breaking the law and joins a team in the playoff hunt. It’s probably less common for that player to have a major role just after joining the team. Well, Floyd has done a pretty great job with his opportunities, is catching almost everything that comes his way (even if he lands out of bounds), he’s fighting for yards, and laying incredible blocks.
Floyd is likely to sign a one-year “prove it” deal in 2017. He’s made a case to stick with New England.
Winner: Patriots offensive line
Brady was not sacked. He was hit once all day. Tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon didn’t allow a sack, hit, or a hurry against the Dolphins defensive front. Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh was invisible, which is a testament to RG Shaq Mason and C David Andrews.
Rookie LG Joe Thuney struggled against Dolphins DT Jordan Phillips, but if four of your five linemen are playing at a high level, then your rookie guard can struggle and receive some help from the running back. The Patriots line is playing better than ever.
Loser: DT Malcom Brown
Brown was once again relegated to back-up on the defensive line. Rookie DT Vincent Valentine earned the start for the second-straight week, but at least Brown didn’t have to wait until the fourth quarter for an opportunity to take the field. Brown recorded three solo tackles and outplayed Valentine. He should be back as a starter in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Winner: DE Trey Flowers
Flowers has asserted himself as one of the better defensive ends in the NFL over the course of the second half of the season. He recorded 5 tackles, all for big stops well shy of the first down, and 2 additional quarterback hits. He’s really setting the tone for the rest of the defensive end rotation to play with energy and technique late into games.
Winner: DC Matt Patricia
The New England Patriots have finished the 2016 regular season with 250 points allowed, easily the #1 mark in the league. The Patriots are the first team since the 2013 Seattle Seahawks and 2013 Carolina Panthers to allow 250 points or less over the course of a season. The Patriots have allowed the third-fewest points in the Bill Belichick era, behind only 2006 (237 points allowed) and 2003 (238).
Patricia received a lot of criticism for the performance of the Patriots defense early in the year. He deserves every bit of praise that should now be coming his way.
Loser: Patriots Divisional Round Opponent
The Patriots are the biggest juggernaut in the NFL with the #1 ranked defense and #3 ranked offense that. Whatever team comes to New England in the divisional round will not be in the best of shape.
The Patriots can face the Houston Texans, whose starting QB Tom Savage was lost to a concussion injury, forcing recently benched QB Brock Osweiler back into the line-up. The Texans will have to get past the Oakland Raiders, who are on their third string rookie QB Connor Cook after Matt McGloin suffered a shoulder injury to join starter Derek Carr on the sideline. And then there’s the Dolphins with back-up QB Matt Moore, a team the Patriots just thoroughly dominated down in Miami without really breaking a sweat.
These three teams combined to score 37 points this past week. They’ll be in trouble if they can’t produce in the playoffs.