Cleat Geeks

Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots

There will be an AFC East showdown on Thursday night between the hot Dolphins and the unbeaten Patriots. This game will mark the 100th time the two teams have met; the Dolphins lead the series 52-47 currently. Although the Patriots have dominated this rivalry in recent history, the Dolphins have won two of the past three meetings.

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The Dolphins struggled in the early part of the season, but since their coaching change, they have won the past two games and look like an entirely different team. They had a dominating performance on Sunday as they completely embarrassed the Texans. It was 41-0 at halftime! New Head Coach Dan Campbell said that he wanted to bring a toughness to this team, and that attitude has translated to an amazing 428 rushing yards over the past two games. He also has the defense finally playing the way we anticipated they would at the beginning of the season. Over the past two weeks the Dolphins have recorded ten sacks, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and two defensive touchdowns. They did all of this while giving up only 621 yards, most of which have come in garbage time for the other team. The only thing negative I can say is that they did this against the Titans and Texans–two bad teams. We will see how dominant this defense really is when they face their most daunting challenge of the season: stopping Tom Brady and the Patriots at home.

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots

Despite the health of the Patriots’ offensive line, they have the top-ranked offense in the league. Coming into Thursday night, New England is averaging a league-best 35.5 points per game, and they haven’t scored less than 28 points yet. Tom Brady has been doing Tom Brady-like things throwing 2,054 yards with 16 touchdowns and only one interception in six games. Gronkowski has been his favorite target, to the surprise of nobody. He leads the team with 533 yards and six touchdowns, both of which equal the most in the league among tight ends. Last week they were missing their starting running back, Dion Lewis (abdomen injury), but welcomed back wide receiver Brandon LaFell. Unfortunately for LaFell, he didn’t have the debut that he was looking for as he dropped six of Brady’s passes. As usual, the Patriots are not sharing many updates about Lewis’ injury at all, but I would expect him to return for this game.

 

Fantasy:

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The Dolphins’ offense has been unbelievable the past two weeks, and the Patriots’ defense does give up 381 yards and 21 points per game. I think Miami will be able to move the ball, but don’t expect 41 points in the first half. The Patriots have given up 295+ passing yards with no interceptions in their last two games, so the matchup looks good for Tannehill. I would expect him to get close to 300 total yards, but I do think he throws an interception. Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews will be the two main receivers used, and I think both have a good chance at 75-100 yards. Out of the two, I think Matthews has the better chance at the touchdown. I don’t like tight end Jordan Cameron at all here. It is a combination of him struggling to produce this season, and the Patriots being solid against tight ends. If you can help it, I’d avoid him. After an amazing performance last week, I think Lamar Miller comes back down to Earth. I said it on Twitter @FantasyFlurry before the game last week, I think week eight is the time to sell-high on Miller. I don’t think he will be as bad as he was at the beginning of the season, but you’d be crazy to expect 100-yard rushing games from him on a consistent basis. After his amazing performance last week, sell-high now if you can! His schedule also gets tougher in regards to run defenses. I mean…even I could run for 20-30 yards against the Texans. I expect him to get around 80 total yards in this game with about half coming through the air.

Even though the Dolphin’s defense has been good the past two games, they faced two of the worst offenses. Nobody has been able to stop the Patriots’ offense so far this season, and I don’t think it starts here. Brady will likely pass for about 300 yards with two-to-three touchdowns and a rare interception. I think the Dolphins’ pass rush will get there at times, and that could force Brady to throw an interception. The two other must-starts for this offense are Gronkowski and Edelman. Gronk will get 80-100 yards and a touchdown while Edelman hauls in 6-8 catches for about 60 yards with a good chance to score. One of the Patriots’ running backs will have a good game, it is just tough to figure out who. New England usually likes to use a more powerful runner against Miami, that’s why I’ll say Blount has the better game. If Lewis is active, which I think he will be, I think he will get his fair share of snaps, and his value obviously goes up in PPR leagues. Lastly, I think Amendola and LaFell will split most of the other receptions, each catching about 5-7 with LaFell getting into the end zone for the first time this year.

 

Prediction:

Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Tom Brady, Shane Vereen

Miami is shocking the whole league right now, but can this continue Thursday? Even though I am a Dan Campbell believer, I don’t think they will be able to beat the Patriots at home. When all is said and done, I think the Patriots offense is too much to handle as they win 34-24.

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