Who has the edge?

Un­de­feated Mi­ami stands good chance to end 10-year drought in Foxbor­ough

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Gameday - Safid Deen

DAVIE — The un­de­feated, AFC East-lead­ing Dol­phins will visit the 1-2 Pa­tri­ots in Week 4 of the NFL sea­son on Sun­day at 1 p.m. in Gil­lette Sta­dium. Win or lose against the Pa­tri­ots, the Dol­phins (3-0) will still be atop the di­vi­sion. His­tory may not be on Mi­ami’s side, with the Dol­phins look­ing to win their first game at New Eng­land in 10 years. But a three-game lead in the AFC East plus a tiebreaker over New Eng­land would be a hand­some re­ward if the Dol­phins are able to beat the Pa­tri­ots.

When the Dol­phins pass: Thanks to two short shovel passes to Ja­keem Grant and Al­bert Wil­son that led to lengthy touch­downs, Ryan Tan­nehill has one of the high­est NFL passer rat­ings at 121.8, ranked fourth be­hind Pa­trick Ma­homes, Ryan Fitz­patrick and Drew Brees. Of all the start­ing quar­ter­backs in the league, Tan­nehill has thrown the fewest passes (54 of 74, 73 per­cent). Dol­phins coach Adam Gase has di­aled up sev­eral big plays over the first three weeks of the sea­son, lead­ing to the 3-0 start. Mi­ami will have to sus­tain a drive or two in New Eng­land to keep the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands, but will con­tinue to rely on its big-play po­ten­tial to put points up on the board in a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment. Ex­pect the Dol­phins to take ad­van­tage of the Pa­tri­ots de­fense, which ranks fifth-to-last in the league, giv­ing up 406.3 yards per game this sea­son. Edge: Dol­phins

When the Pa­tri­ots pass: Tom Brady, even at

41 years old, still de­mands the re­spect of be­ing one of the great­est quar­ter­backs in league his­tory. Brady has a quar­ter­back rat­ing of 93.9 through three games. Brady played his best game of the sea­son in the opener, throw­ing for

277 yards with three touch­downs, but has only three short touch­down passes in the last two games. His long­est throw of the sea­son was a

30-yard pass. Brady sim­ply does not have enough weapons out­side of tight end Rob Gronkowski, but em­bat­tled re­ceiver Josh Gor­don could make his team de­but this week. Still, Brady is

21-10 all-time against the Dol­phins, com­plet­ing 60 per­cent of his passes with a 91.2 passer rat­ing. If any­one is go­ing to get the Pa­tri­ots out of their 1-2 start, it’s him. Edge: Pa­tri­ots

When the Dol­phins run: The Raiders de­fense was able to limit Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake to just 15 yards last week, but ex­pect that to be an anom­aly for the Dol­phins this sea­son. The Raiders had nearly dou­ble the num­ber of of­fen­sive snaps last week, be­fore the Dol­phins cap­i­tal­ized late with run­ning plays that were cred­ited as pass­ing touch­downs for Ryan Tan­nehill. This game should be a break­out game for Drake, Mi­ami’s starter in his third sea­son, with Gore also get­ting his fair share of runs up the mid­dle and short passes out of the back­field. New Eng­land is se­cond-to-last in the NFL, sur­ren­der­ing 143.3 yards per game on the ground, mak­ing it an ideal of­fen­sive game plan for Dol­phins coach Adam Gase to cap­i­tal­ize on. Edge: Dol­phins

When the Pa­tri­ots run: The Pa­tri­ots had to place run­ning back Rex Burk­head on in­jured re­serve this week with a neck in­jury, a move that could set the stage for Sony Michel in his rookie sea­son. Michel, the her­alded stand­out who grad­u­ated from Plan­ta­tion’s Amer­i­can Her­itage, has just 24 car­ries for 84 yards in the last two games. Tom Brady also loves to uti­lize run­ning back James White — a St. Thomas Aquinas grad­u­ate — as a re­ceiv­ing tar­get out of the back­field, as White has a team-high 14 re­cep­tions for 125 yards with two touch­downs. Sim­ply put, the Pa­tri­ots are not go­ing to take the ball out of Brady’s hands much, es­pe­cially with a rookie in the back­field, es­pe­cially against Mi­ami’s de­fense, which ranks sev­enth

giv­ing up less than 90 rush­ing yards per game. Edge: Dol­phins

Spe­cial Teams: Dol­phins kick re­turner Ja­keem Grant could break free for an­other kick­off re­turn touch­down at any point, while Pa­tri­ots re­turner Cor­dar­relle Pat­ter­son has five kick­off re­turn touch­downs in his six-year ca­reer. Pa­tri­ots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has made 5 of 6 field goals, and made all six of his ex­tra-point kicks, while Dol­phins rookie kicker Ja­son San­ders hasn’t kicked a field goal in two weeks but has made 9 of 10 ex­tra-point kicks this sea­son. Pa­tri­ots punter Ryan Allen is av­er­ag­ing 48 yards per punt this sea­son with just 4 of his 15 punts land­ing in­side the 20, while Dol­phins punter Matt Haack had eight of his last 12 punts land in­side the 20, set­ting Mi­ami’s de­fense up with ideal field po­si­tion. This point could be the dif­fer­ence in the game. Edge: Dol­phins

In­tan­gi­bles: The Dol­phins are off to a 3-0 start for the first time in five years, and fourth in the last 20 years. Adam Gase has his quar­ter­back in Ryan Tan­nehill back in the fold, and play­ers on of­fense that have helped the Dol­phins gain early suc­cess this sea­son. … The Dol­phins’ 13 points al­lowed in the first half, and

31 points scored in the fourth quar­ter are both se­cond in the NFL. … The Pa­tri­ots are off to a

1-2 start, af­ter con­sec­u­tive road losses at Jack­sonville and De­troit. While their slow start is not ideal, his­tory is not on Mi­ami’s side. The last time the Dol­phins won in New Eng­land was in 2008 — a game Tom Brady did not play in. The Pa­tri­ots also have a 35-17 ad­van­tage as the home team in the all-time matchup, with Bill Belichick own­ing a 23-13 edge against the Dol­phins since he has been Pa­tri­ots coach. The Dol­phins are on a roll, but are go­ing up against two NFL greats in Brady and Belichick. Edge: Pa­tri­ots.

Pre­dic­tion: Dol­phins 28, Pa­tri­ots 24


New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady throws dur­ing the first half of a game against the De­troit Li­ons. At right, Mi­ami Dol­phins quar­ter­back Ryan Tan­nehill (17) looks to pass against the Ten­nessee Ti­tans. The Pa­tri­ots have won nine straight at home in the se­ries.

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