What seemed obvious to the Miami Dolphins a month ago is now at stake.
Mike McDaniel delivered an incredible turnaround in the Dolphins’ first season against the Buffalo Bills and contending for the #1 overall seed in the AFC playoff picture. But after four straight losses and another concussion for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Miami (8-7) is looking to make the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The Dolphins’ final two games of the regular season will be against their AFC East rivals who are also in playoff berth. The first is nemesis Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (7 wins and 8 losses). Their offense may have struggled under his QB Mack Jones, but the Pats still boasted a stout defense, with Tyreek Hill and Jalen battling to keep his waddles in check, and for Teddy Bridgewater, it was a tough move. It becomes difficult.
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Kudos to Bridgewater, but Miami’s offense isn’t the same as he is at center. The team is 0-2 in a game where he made his double-digit pass attempts. New England hasn’t dominated the AFC East like he’s done in the past, but he still has a solid defense (5th on the scoring charts) and provides a tough place to play in the winter. The hot-tempered Cincinnati Bengals narrowly escaped last week, with Miami winning two of their last 13 games in New England by a combined four points.
The Dolphins lost all four games in December, but a win and a loss or tie for the Jets could qualify for the playoffs this week. In addition to a draw and a Jets loss, a Pittsburgh Steelers loss or draw would also send them into the postseason, but the Patriots are motivated to play spoilers and keep their own faint playoff hopes alive. Head coach Bill Belichick will find out how to plan a winning scenario against the Buffalo Bills in Week 18.
No Tua? A big problem for the Miami offense.
Like the Titans and Jets, the Dolphins are doing their best to make the playoffs. They are on his 4th straight loss and may be without QB Tua Tagovailoa. But a win over the Patriots, who have lost four in his last five games, would put the Steelers out of the playoffs.
These patriots waited idly and sloppily for someone to put them out of their misery. Entering the Dolphins on a four-game losing streak, starting backup his quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater has far better plans and more talent around him, but still considers himself more comfortable than Mack Jones. They don’t have the backend speed or physicality to survive Waddle’s dynamic receiving duo, Miami’s dynamic receiving duo.
The winner controls their own destiny in the AFC Wildcard Race. The Dolphins are away and he’s 3-5 and is on a four-game losing streak. The Patriots are 3-4 at home and have lost 4 of their 5 games. Miami won the first meeting of Week 1, 20-7, and he has a chance to win five in a row in the series. Bill Belichick interrupts.
If Tua Tagovailoa was 100% healthy, I would choose dolphins. [with] Touring out, we see the Patriots win this and maintain their playoff hopes.
It will be a huge game for both sides as the winner of this game will determine the fate of the playoffs. The Dolphins have lost four in a row, and the Patriots have lost two in the past two weeks. Both offenses have been in trouble lately, and Miami will almost certainly miss Tua Tagovailoa due to concussions. Teddy Bridgewater starts. It’s important. Patriots win.
This article originally appeared in the Palm Beach Post: Dolphins vs. Patriots Predictions: NFL Experts Pick Week 17 Game