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Patriots vs. Dolphins: Three keys to the Game

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After a Week 1 beatdown of the Steelers, the Patriots shift their focus to another rival as they travel to South Beach to take on the Dolphins.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots may be traveling to Miami in February for the Super Bowl, however, this week is the Dolphins’ shot at their own Super Bowl with the Patriots coming to town. It is hard to find really anything positive that Brian Flores’ Dolphins did well in their 59-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 and the Patriots are currently 19.5 point favorites this weekend, tied for the third biggest spread since 2009.

However, it’s no secret that Tom Brady has struggled in Miami for most of his career, especially early in seasons when the temperatures are mostly in the 90’s. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at three keys for the Patriots to come away victoriously.

Getting ahead early

Brady holds a 22-11 career record versus Miami. He’s only 1-5 in his last six down there, however, and those 11 losses are the most he’s had against a single opponent. With that being said, giving Miami any hope from the start is something to avoid as the Patriots don’t want to get the team and the home crowd the feeling of being able to compete.

Miami’s locker room that is reportedly a mess while the club is in full tank-mode, so getting the scoring on going early and giving the Dolphins no hope whatsoever from the start is imperative to New England’s success.

Pounding the ball

Tom Brady was nearly perfect against Pittsburgh as he was snapping it all night. That being said, the Patriots struggled on the ground a bit on Sunday night which should be an area of focus heading into Week 2. They were held to just 99 rushing yards as a team, mainly because Sony Michel had just 15 yards on 14 carries.

I know, with the receiving corps they have today, a lot of people want to see Brady sit back there and throw it 40 times. This is a team that prides itself on running the football well, however, so getting the rushing attack going after a shaky start to the regular season will be big, especially versus a brutal Miami defense.

Getting Antonio Brown acclimated

This will be the first time really since Randy Moss that Tom Brady will have the chance to throw to a true top-five wide receiver in the league. Brown, who led the league in go-ball touchdowns last year, brings a wide variety of route-running abilities and a unique overall skillset to an already deep offense. Pairing him with Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman could have opposing defenses constantly shaking their heads.

However, we know how hard it is, especially in-season, to come in and learn and perform the Patriots’ playbook, and to get on the same page as Tom Brady. A game like today’s against a team like Miami should therefore allow for the two to work out the kinks, and experiment against one of the NFL’s worst defenses on paper.