The Miami Dolphins snapped a three-game losing skid last week against the Seattle Seahawks, but face a much tougher challenge on Sunday as the New England Patriots come to town firing on all cylinders in Week 13.
At 5-6 overall, the Dolphins are currently sitting in the eighth spot in the AFC, behind the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers -- who are both 6-5 -- in the postseason race. With a record of 8-3, the Patriots are a game behind the Baltimore Ravens and two games back of the Houston Texans for the first two spots in the conference, which of course also come with a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Meet the Miami Dolphins
After dropping three straight games to the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills, Miami scored a huge victory over the Seahawks, 24-21, in Week 12. Down seven midway through the fourth quarter, rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill led two scoring drives to bring the Dolphins back for the win.
Defensively, Miami has struggled in defending the pass as they rank 26th in the league, allowing 261.7 yards through the air per game. They do, however, stop the run relatively well, as their 96.7 yards given up per game ranks seventh in the NFL.
Meet the New England Patriots
New England has won five games straight, scoring no less than 29 points in any of those contests. On Thanksgiving night, the Patriots embarrassed their division rival New York Jets, 49-19, pouring in 35 points alone in the second quarter.
The Patriots rank in the top ten in both passing (fourth in the league with 292.1 yards per game) and rushing (sixth in the NFL with 143.7 yards on the ground per game). Quarterback Tom Brady is in the middle of it all, throwing for 3,299 yards so far -- fifth-best in the league -- along with 24 touchdowns (fourth-most in the NFL) and only three interceptions.
Local Takes: Dolphins
Kevin Nogle from The Phinsider lays out the Dolphins' chances at the postseason:
"Miami is currently 5-6 on the year, and in the hunt for the AFC playoffs. They are currently one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers for the final Wildcard position. The trail the AFC East division leading Patriots by three games."
Local Takes: Patriots
Alec Shane from Pats Pulpit doesn't see the Patriots overlooking the Dolphins:
"When have the Patriots ever overlooked anybody? The team has come out looking flat and sluggish in the past, losing games that they have no business losing, but you'll be hard pressed to convince me that those losses came as a result of looking too far ahead on the schedule. I can promise you this: Bill Belichick will have this team ready to play come Sunday. Like I just said, it honestly doesn't matter who the opponent is this week; when there is a win and you're in situation like this, New England will be all business."
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Can Tannehill be elite, can the Dolphins find playmakers, and more.News You May Have Missed. sbn.to/TlBljP— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) November 28, 2012
Patriots vs. Dolphins: 3 Players on Miami to Watch Out For sbn.to/TuXa46— Greg Knopping (@patspulpit) November 29, 2012
@BenVolinPBP - Ben Volin, Dolphins/NFL writer for The Palm Beach Post.
@tomecurran - Tom E. Curran, covers the Patriots for Comcast SportsNet New England.
I don't know how the Dolphins would score enough points to win this game. They've scored more than 30 points once this season. The Patriots have done that seven times, including in each of the last four games (49, 59, 37 and 45 points, respectively). The Patriots' offense should feast on Miami.
The pick: 37-20, Patriots.
New England opened the week as 6½-point favorites on the road, according to OddsShark, and the line has since bumped all the way to favoring the Patriots by nine points. The over/under point total began the week at 51, and has only moved slightly to where it is now, at 51½.
In Week 14, the Dolphins head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers in a late Sunday afternoon contest. The Patriots, on the other hand, will get set for a Monday night meeting at home with the Texans.