New England Patriots need a big win over Miami in Week 18

New England Patriots. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots travel south in Week 18, to play the Miami Dolphins in the final week of the NFL regular season and they need a big win to keep things on track.

While the Patriots have qualified for a Wild Card playoff spot, that level of performance would have been looked upon as a failure during the past 20 years.

During that golden era, winning Division titles was a given and top seed in the AFC was the goal of every regular season. The Patriots had a chance to achieve that this season and blew it.

New England Patriots have lots to play for against the Dolphins

So while the playoffs have been achieved, there are several reasons why this game is a very important one for the Patriots.

First, the Division winner and possibly other spots have yet to be finalized. A win by New England and a Buffalo loss (unlikely since they play the Jets) would win the AFC East Division for New England. That means hosting a Wild Card game.

Second, it’s important to win to keep up positive momentum going into Wild Card weekend where the Patriots will likely play even if they did win the Division.

After the two shoddy performances against the Indianapolis Colts and the Buffalo Bills prior to Jacksonville, they need a solid game against a good Miami team to keep momentum positive.

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Indeed, Miami is a good team, now sporting an 8-8 record having won four of their last 5 games. They are playing well and their quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has had a good season.

He’s completed 67.8. percent of his passes for 2544 yards 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His team is coming off a 34-3 shellacking at the hands of the Tennessee Titans and they’ll be looking to bounce back in style to finish their season.

Miami is the best team at present to be eliminated from the playoffs and they’ll be looking to close out 2021 with a win and with a winning season. They’d like nothing better than to again slap a loss on the playoff-bound Patriots and sweep the season series in so doing.

New England Patriots should be looking for big-time payback

Miami started the Patriots atrocious 2-4 beginning of the season stretch with a win that was fumbled away by the Patriots, ruining the debut of quarterback Mac Jones and his 2021 team.

That memory should still be fresh and for certain, the coaches will have reminded the payers that they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with that late miscue.

Jones should be looking for big-time payback and especially to beat another former great Alabama quarterback in the process in Tagovailoa.

He outplayed Tagovailoa in that first game, throwing for a 74 percent completion percentage and it had to be a bitter defeat for the rookie in his first regular-season NFL game.

Jones is now no longer a rookie. He’s played more than the past rookie complement of 16 regular games any season prior to 2021. There are no excuses now for “rookie status”.

Jones bounced back in style against the hapless Jaguars helping to put up 50 points in Week 17 after having been toasted by two playoff teams, the Colts and Bills the two prior weeks.

The Patriots’ young quarterback has to be poised to deliver in this game against Miami, a playoff-caliber if not an actual playoff team.

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Again, as noted, should Buffalo somehow flop against the Jets, a win means a Division title and hosting a playoff game, as well.

That’s the story. There should be plenty of motivation for the New England Patriots to bring their “A” game to Miami, a place that has been a house of horrors for the team seemingly forever.

It’s up to Bill Belichick and his coaching staff, and Patriots leaders, Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Matthew Slater, Matthew Judon, and Mac Jones to be certain there’s no letdown.