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Patriots-Dolphins Preview: An Important Finish

 Miami Dolphins Raekwan Davis will be a key to stopping the New England Patriots run game
JASEN VINLOVE-USA TODAY SPORTS Miami Dolphins Raekwon Davis will be a key to stopping the New England Patriots run game

What’s at Stake Against New England

The Miami Dolphins lost out on their shot at the playoffs. Their loss to the Titans and the Chargers’ win against the Broncos ensured that. This is the fifth year in a row they will miss out on the postseason. They have a chance to finish with a winning record in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 2002-03 seasons. The Dolphins have a chance to sweep the season series with the Patriots for the first time since 1999-00, when they won four straight meetings. It would also ensure Brian Flores a winning record against New England and Bill Belichick. Flores is currently 3-2 against the Patriots.

A Familiar Issue Pops Up Again

Last week the Dolphins struggled on both sides of the in the run game. Part of the reason was that they trailed the entire game. Miami still ranks tenth in rush yards allowed this season, but how much of that was the competition? They surrendered 198 yards on 40 rushes to the Titans Sunday. New England, led by Damian Harris, is eighth in rush offense this season. The Patriots use their run game to protect Mac Jones, who has had a solid rookie season. Raekwon Davis and Zach Sieler, Miami’s best run stopping defensive linemen, will have to get a strong push against an excellent New England offensive line.

On the offensive side of the the Dolphins rush offense ranks thirty-first in the league. They still may have a chance to advantage of a New England defense that ranks twenty-second in rushing yards allowed. Miami may have to try and run because the Patriots have the fourth best pass defense. Duke Johnson should receive more attempts to try and help balance the offense. If he can have some success then Miami won’t just have to rely on Tua Tagovailoa and the short passing game.

How Much Can History Help Miami End the Season on a Up Note?

Since 2000 the Dolphins are 12-9 against the Patriots in Miami. Tom Brady is 8-10 at Miami. No matter how the season was going Miami found a way to play one of its best games against New England at home. The most famous example was in 2018 when the Dolphins pulled off the Miami Miracle. Ryan Tannehill threw a short pass to Kenny Stills who lateralled to Devante Parker. Parker then flipped it back to Kenyan Drake who weaved around New England defenders to help Miami secure the imporbable win.

The question of whether the Dolphins can draw upon that history to finish the season with a win is a big one because New England still has an outside chance to win the AFC East. The Bills will be playing the Jets at home at the same time and Bill Belichick will not allow his team to scoreboard watch. The Dolphins will have his teams undivided attention, which means Miami will have to raise its game to end its season feeling better about things going into what will be a very important off season.

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