New England Patriots Gameday: Dynasty on the line vs. Miami Dolphins

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 23: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass while playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 23, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 23: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass while playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 23, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots (1-2) take on the undefeated Miami Dolphins (3-0) in an AFC East showdown at Gillette Stadium Sunday afternoon.

When the New England Patriots face adversity, it is typically a good bet that the team will bounce back strong, especially with Bill Belichick at head coach and Tom Brady under center.

If that is no longer the case.  If the offseason drama and off-the-field tension has finally put an end to this long-standing dynasty, fans and the entire NFL nation will find out Sunday afternoon.

Entering the Week 4 matchup against the Miami Dolphins at 1-2, the Patriots cannot afford to lose a third consecutive game.  Not only would they have a deeper hole to dig out of, they will fall three games behind the Dolphins, including the tie-breaker to wrap up another AFC East divisional title.

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In order to avoid such a scenario, key players have to step up.  A couple of those key players are Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.  If those two have a monster game, the offense will be just fine.

Where this team will really need a boast is on the defensive side of the ball.  Dont’a Hightower has been a topic of concern this week and he needs to find a way to return to top form.  The team will also look for a boost from newly acquired defensive end/linebacker John Simon.

Furthermore, this New England Patriots defense cannot take Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannenhill and the Miami offense lightly.

"“He’s a good player,” Bill Belichick told the media on Friday.  “He’s been a good player, he’s still a good player.  Obviously, players get better with experience, but he does everything well.  He makes good decisions, gets the ball to his skill players, makes key plays in close games to help them win.  That’s the bottom line.  Get your team to the winner’ circle.  That’s what he does a lot of.  That’s really what it’s about.”"

With one of those skill players being former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, Belichick’s defense really needs to avoid falling down early and allowing Adam Gase and his offense from controlling the game.  To avoid that, the team will need to show a since of urgency and a toughness that has been missing the last two weeks.

How to watch Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots

Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA

Kickoff: Sunday, Sept 30, 2018 1:00 p.m. ET

TV: CBS (Check local listings)

Streaming:  fuboTV

Week 4 Prediction:

There are a few storylines to watch in this one.  The main one is whether or not Josh Gordon makes his New England Patriots debut.  Even if he doesn’t, expect Tom Brady and the offense to play much better than they did in Detroit.

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Will that be enough to get past the Miami Dolphins?

Probably not.  That’s why the defense is the emphasis in this game.  They just have to make some plays on all three levels.  The Dolphins have speed at the wide receiver and tight end positions that can expose the Patriots lack of quickness at linebacker, but speed isn’t everything.  Playing smart football and seeing the field as a cohesive unit can help limit big plays and limit those plays in the middle of the field.

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With that being said, expect the type of game the defense played in Week 1 against the Houston Texans. The Patriots will get out to a quick start and win this one 34-10Sony Michel, James White, Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan have big games offensively and Dont’a Hightower will silence critics by leading a more aggressive New England Patriots defense.

If Josh Gordon does play, he will make a catch or two that will spark the Patriots’ offense.