Patriots to take on Dolphins in final regular season game
The New England Patriots (11-4) host the Miami Dolphins (7-8) in the season finale at Gillette Stadium starting at 4:25 p.m. This would be their second meeting of the season; the last time the two teams played was back in Week 13, when the Patriots escaped Sun Life Stadium with a 23-16 victory.
Coincidentally, the Patriots also slipped from the Jacksonville Jaguars with a tough 23-16 win in Week 16. Remember that the Dolphins beat the Jaguars 24-3 at Sun Life Stadium in Week 15, with star running back Reggie Bush plowing for 104 yards on the ground. Look for Bush to develop the Dolphins’ passing attack, as in a 24-10 win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 16 with 42 receiving yards. The Patriots’ star cornerback, Aqib Talib, seems to be nursing a left thigh injury, leaving the secondary more susceptible.
Players to watch out for:
In the past 10 games against the Dolphins, the Patriots have posted an 8-2 record. The most damage done against the Dolphins has been through Welker, who has 87 catches, 5 receiving touchdowns, and 1084 yards against his former team. If numbers don’t lie, look for him to have another big game. The last time Welker played the Dolphins, he broke a tie with Marvin Harrison by achieving the ninth 12-catch game in his career, the most in NFL history. Welker is third in the NFL this season with 110 receptions.
The star running back keeps the offense versatile with dependable hands. He can run, he can catch, and he’s a big-time threat. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has always liked to take one thing away from the opposing team. Bush might not have big numbers this game due to schemes planned for him.
Let’s see if Ridley can recover from another fumble-itis game against the Jaguars last week. Ridley is unquestionably the best running back the Patriots have to offer since Corey Dillon in their promising run to winning their last Super Bowl in 2004. Ridley has been having a spectacular season, with 10 TDs and 1189 yards in 270 attempts.
Tom Brady’s throwing hand
Last week, Jaguars defensive end No. 58 Jason Babin made a hit on Tom Brady in the course of a throw, and causing Brady to nurse his throwing hand while on the sidelines. Patriots Nation gasps every time The Franchise gets trucked like that, because the path to Super Bowl No. 6 is through a healthy Brady.
If the Patriots win, they clinch first-round bye with either a Denver or Houston loss, since the Pats hold the tiebreaker over both teams, having beaten both this season.
The Patriots will have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if both Denver and Houston lose. This scenario is unlikely since Peyton Manning is red-hot while the Chiefs have been cooling off for a while now.
Click here for the breakdown of Patriots playoff scenarios, or here for the entire NFL’s.