Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots Pick 12/29/19

by | Dec 24, 2019 | nfl

Miami Dolphins (4-11 SU, 8-7 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (12-3 SU, 8-6-1 ATS)

Date/Time: Sunday, December 29th 1:00 PM

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA

TV: CBS

Point Spread: MIA +15.5 / NE -15.5 (SportBet - Highest Parlay Payouts in the World!)

Over/Under Total: 45

Two AFC East teams having near opposite years meet in Foxboro on Sunday to end the regular season when the Patriots host the Dolphins at 1:00 PM on Sunday. Miami leads the all-time series 55-53, but it is New England who has had the clear upper hand of late, going 14-5 over the last 19 games in the series. The Patriots have been especially dominant at home, winning ten straight against the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium with an average victory by 19.5 points per game.

DYNASTIC

New England comes into their playoff tune-up game against Miami needing a win to secure the number two seed in the AFC playoffs and, in turn, a first-round bye. This would mark an NFL record 10th time in a row that the Patriots will have gotten a bye in the first round, and set them up for a possibility to build upon their own record and make it a ninth consecutive season with at least one win the playoffs.

STILL THE ONE

One major reason for the win against the Bills was the play of quarterback Tom Brady, who completed 78.8 percent of his passes, which was his best rate in the past 43 games. Dismissed by many national and hometown media members, Brady proved yet again that the ability to be the best, even with a lack of a supporting cast, is still within him. The Patriots will need that sort of play to continue if they want to have any chance of making a run in the playoffs and getting to their fourth Super Bowl in the past five seasons.

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BACKFIELD IMPROVEMENT

Another positive sign for the Patriots was the continued success of running back Sony Michel, who struggled to start the year but has played his best football of late, averaging at least 4.3 yards per carry in four of his last five games. New England has had a great run of success when Michel gets involved in the game plan, going 16-1 in their last seventeen games when he gets 15 or more carries and having won 12 straight when Sony scores a touchdown.

Down by a point in the fourth quarter, the Patriots ran the ball on the final six plays on their way to the eventual game-winning touchdown and a two-point conversion. The late play of Rex Burkhead helped again, whether it be on the ground or through the air, and the team has now won ten straight games when Burkhead gets two or more receptions. Oddly enough the Patriots haven’t found the same type of run with James White, who very well could be the best all-around player in their backfield, as they are 1-3 this season when White has more than five carries, and he has also scored a touchdown in five of their last seven losses.

EDEL THE MAN

Patriots nation fell to a doomed hush of silence when wide receiver Julian Edelman went down with an injury and was sent to the locker room for concussion examination during the Buffalo game, but thankfully he ended up ok and was back in for the pivotal four-quarter scoring drives. It’s unfortunate and foreboding for the Patriots that Edelman is the only reliable wide receiver on the team, with the running, backs a lot more sure-handed and reliable than any of the other targets on the team. This was lowlighted on Saturday when Muhammad Sanu wasn’t smart enough to stretch the ball over the 1st down marker on a play when he was inches away. They ended up not getting the first down on the next play thanks to a horrendous 4th down wide receiver sweep call by overrated Josh McDaniels, and on the ensuing drive, the Bills ended up scoring to tie the game at halftime. It’s an easy chain reaction to see coming with avoidable mistakes are made, especially by a team that is as well-coached (I mean Belichick and Scarnecchia, not McDaniels) as they are an not used to making so many such errors as they have during this season. The hope is rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers can play smarter football and make more of an impact since Phillip Dorsett has now disappeared from any part of the teams’ game plan.

WIN AND LOSS

Miami enters the final week of the season, coming off a double-edged sword of a win against the Bengals a week ago. With the Giants beating the Redskins, all the Dolphins would have needed to do was lose their final two games, and they would have been set up for number two pick in the draft. But since they won in overtime against Cincinnati, they are now looking at the number five pick, which is far far away from the coveted top two spots for quarterback Joe Burrow and defensive lineman Chase Young.

PROBLEMS EVERYWHERE

The Dolphins need help all over, but none more so than at the quarterback position where the aged Ryan Fitzpatrick is the only viable option at the position. They had traded for Josh Rosen in the offseason, but he continued to confirm that he is one of the worst top ten picks in the recent memory, and now the team will need to do a serious upgrade up and down the position if they ever want to get out of the pathetic level that they have ever found themselves in. Sure doesn’t help as well that your fan base is the least knowledgeable in sports with a complete lack of loyalty from those in the area for their professional teams unless they are at the absolute pinnacle of success, and then and only then would you see a sudden uptick of front running “fan” interest.

PUTTIN’ ON THE FITZ

On the season, Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t been able to pull off the Fitzmagic that help define previous stops on his career, throwing for 3209 yards while putting up a 19-13 TD:INT ratio. Unfortunately for Fitz, the Dolphins don’t have a lot of viable options on offense other than Devante Parker, which further shows by the fact that with 228 yards on the ground, Fitzpatrick is also the teams’ leading rusher. When your offense ranks 27nd in yards per game, 32nd in passing and 25th in scoring, there is usually a lot of room for improvement, and this couldn’t be more true for a Miami team that would likely require a complete overhaul of their entire offense to get things back going in at least a positive direction.

FITZ TARGETS

Wide receiver Devante Parker is easily the top target on the team, posting 64 receptions for 1065 yards and nine touchdowns, with the scoring mark putting him at tied for 3rd in the NFL in TD catches. After seeing just nine targets in his previous two games combined, things came back to normal last Sunday when Parker was targeted a career-high 15 times in their win against the Bengals. After Parker, second-year tight end Mike Gesicki has really come on strong of late to establish himself as the top second-tier option on the team, scoring four touchdowns over the past five weeks and pulling in 57 targets over the past eight weeks, which may not seem like a lot but it certainly is when considering he had just 25 over his first six weeks. After that, there isn’t much consistency to rely on with Preston Williams on IR and Allen Hurns posting two touchdowns all season and leaving last weeks’ game with a shoulder injury. Albert Wilson at least had seven receptions previous week (the second-most he has had in a single game in his six-year NFL career), though he will be looking to get into the end zone in the seasons’ final week considering he has scored just once all year.

RUNNING ON EMPTY

When your team’s leading rusher is a 37-year-old quarterback, it’s easy to see why the Dolphins run game ranks 28th in the NFL. Mark Walton leads all running back with 201 yards but hasn’t played since November. Expected starter Kenyan Drake was traded to Arizona, where he eventually went on to last week and ruin any chance of me winning my fantasy football title game by blowing up against the Seahawks, which included the ultimate nutpunch of an 80-yard touchdown run. After than Kalen Ballage is on IR and last week’s top back, Myles Gaskin, is now not expected to play this week after suffering an ankle injury against the Bengals. That leaves just undrafted free agent rookie Patrick Laird, who at least has gained some experience since starting his season in week 10, playing in 136 snaps over the past three games, but will need to improve on a dismal 2.9 yards per carry average, which is a lot easier said than done considering he will be going up against the Patriots second-rated run defense.

THE FINAL DECISION

This week’s point spread of 15.5 is the largest in the league’s final week of the season, though when it comes to New England, that shouldn’t worry you too much as they are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games when favored by 14 points or more. More importantly, when looking at the talent differential on both sides of the ball, it’s easy to see why the line stands as big as it is. The Patriots defense ranks first in the NFL in yards per game and scoring and will be going up against a depleted Dolphins squad that was already severely lacking in talent when at full strength, and now have just Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki as the only real threats on the team. New England has also been playing especially well in the second half of late, allowing just 16 points in the games’ final two quarters over the past five weeks. For the Patriots to be successful, they have continuously shown how important it is for them to get on the scoreboard often, as they are 30-2 in their last 32 games when scoring 21 points or more but just 3-7 in their last 10 when scoring 20 or less. This should not be in any way difficult against a Dolphins defense that ranks dead last in yards allowed and scoring. With an all-important first-round bye on the line, I can see Belichick and the Patriots taking no prisoners and getting an easy win and cover to end their regular season.

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