Ring in the New Year with some NFL action as the Miami Dolphins (8-7) take on the New England Patriots (7-8) in a battle of AFC East rivals. The Patriots will host this one at Gillette Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 1:00 pm ET.
The Dolphins come into this one reeling, having lost four games in a row. Last week, they were taken down by the Green Bay Packers 26-20. In the loss, Tua Tagovailoa threw for 310 yards and a touchdown, but he also had three interceptions.
New England has also struggled, having lost two games in a row. In last week’s 22-18 home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Mac Jones threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns, but the offense couldn’t muster anything else against the Bengals.
The Patriots are the favorites in this one playing at home. They are -162 to win, while the Dolphins’ moneyline sits at +136. The spread features Miami as 3-point underdogs (-114), while the over/under for total points is 42 (-110).
Tua Out For Pivotal AFC East Matchup
If the season ended today, the Miami Dolphins would be in the playoffs as the last seed in the AFC. With the Patriots just a game behind Miami, though, this matchup could flip the script as the teams jockey for playoff position over the next two weeks.
With such a crucial game on tap, the Dolphins are in a rough spot at quarterback. Head coach Mike McDaniel confirmed on Wednesday that Tua Tagovailoa suffered a concussion in his last start and Teddy Bridgewater will get the start Sunday.
In four games this season, Bridgewater has thrown for 522 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Luckily for Bridgewater, he has two of the best in the NFL to throw to. Both Tyreek Hill (1,632 yards receiving, seven touchdowns) and Jaylen Waddle (1,260 yards receiving, eight touchdowns) have been phenomenal this season.
On the defensive side, Miami ranks 27th in the NFL, allowing 24.7 points per game (31.5 on the road).
Patriots Need To Get It Figured Out On Offense
The Patriots and Dolphins are truly opposites of one another. While Miami thrives on offense, New England is a force on defense. They currently rank fifth in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 19.4 points per game to opponents (17.4 at home).
On the offensive side, the Patriots fall to 16th, scoring 21.2 points per game (19 at home). Their offense is led under center by Mac Jones. This season, Jones has thrown for 2,550 yards, nine touchdowns, and eight interceptions in 12 games.
On the ground, Rhamondre Stevenson leads the team with 944 yards and five touchdowns on 196 carries, but he had a costly fumble last week against the Bengals, when the team had the opportunity to take the lead in the red zone.
To date, Jones’ best receiver has been Jakobi Meyers. Through 12 games played, he has 723 yards receiving and four touchdowns.
Take Miami And The Points
Even though the Dolphins will be relying on a backup, the veteran Teddy Bridgewater is more than capable of still generating some points for the Dolphins.
That is where it gets problematic for the Patriots. For as good as their defense is, their offense has really sputtered at times throughout the season. They have been held to under 20 points in three of their last six games, and they have only eclipsed 30 points once all season.
Looking at the trends, Miami is 5-1 both straight up and against the spread in their last six contests against the Patriots. For New England, they are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games overall.
Expect this one to likely be close throughout, so the most value is in taking the points. In this case, that means taking Miami +3 (-114).