September 17, 2023, 12:22 pm
Miami Dolphins (1-0) @ New England Patriots (0-1)
Dolphins (-180) @ Patriots (+160): O/U 45.5
Dolphins -2.5 (-140), Patriots +2.5 (+120)
Bet: 1-1 -0.2u
Lean: 3-3 -0.35u
The Dolphins looked like world beaters in Week 1 vs. the Chargers with Tua Tagovailoa launching the rock for 456 yards. The Pats were home dogs and had an uphill climb after spotting the Eagles a 16-0 lead. Week 2 is all about adjustments and there is no better coach in NFL history than Bill Belichick at making a team fight left handed. With Tyreek Hill running roughshod over the Chargers all day, one can expect the Pats to tilt their defense to try and contain the uncontainable. The Dolphins are a speed-based offense and run simple concepts that spread the field and allow Tua to hit his two superstar WRs in stride. If the Pats try to take away Hill, then Jaylen Waddle should be the biggest beneficiary. The Pats had a solid game through the air as well, but most of that was due to the negative game script that forced Mac Jones to throw 54 times and limited Rhamondre Stevenson to only 12 carries for 24 yards. I expect that to flip in Week 2 with the Pats leaning heavy on the run game to keep Tua off the field. The Dolphin got gashed for 233 yards on the ground and you better believe Belichick will attack any perceived weaknesses.
Main Storylines to Watch
Can Tua be Stopped: 466 yards in the air is a ridiculous number and it’s possible that the Dolphins and their aerial attack are just too potent for any defense to neutralize. The Pats defense could be up to the task though and they looked the part as they limited the Eagles to only 250 total yards. No one expects Hill to replicate his ridiculous receiving total from Week 1, but as long as he and Waddle can combine for close to 200 yards, the offense will continue to hum. Tua historically has struggled against pressure, but he was getting the ball out so fast vs. the Chargers, that more defenders in his face might just mean less defenders chasing down Hill/Waddle. There are no easy answers, but if history has taught us anything, Belichick will simply change the questions.
Ground and Pound: As good as the Dolphins were through the air last week, they were equally inept stopping anyone on the ground. The Pats don’t have the best offensive line, but they do have a third-year back in Stevenson who is ready to make the leap into one of the most dangerous dual-threats backs in the league. If the Pats can bleed the clock with Stevenson racking up chunk play after chunk play that will go a long way towards evening the scales. Mac Jones showed that he’s moved on from last seasons letdown, but with a dominant rush game, he will be put in a position to thrive in the play-action. Stevenson rush yards is shaping up to be my favorite bet of the season so far.
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