The Miami Dolphins travel to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, to take on the Patriots on Sunday in the season opener for both teams. These teams play against each other twice each season and have split the series in each of the last three seasons. The Dolphins won the most recent meeting 27-24 as a 17.5-point underdog in Foxborough on the last day of the 2019 regular-season, which was the Dolphins' first road win against the Patriots since 2008.
Last season the Patriots went 12-4 and won their 11th straight AFC East crown. The Patriots season ended in the Wild Card playoffs with a 20-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Miami Dolphins went 5-11 in 2019 but did win their final two games of the season.
There will be no fans in attendance for this game, due to the Patriots not allowing fans for the first two games.
How soon will we see Tua Tagovailoa?Former Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores enters his second season as the head coach in Miami. After starting 2019 with an 0-7 record, which included six double-digit losses, the Dolphins showed tremendous improvement and won five of their final nine games. Miami has made changes in the offseason on both sides of the ball that they hope will lead to more improvement in the future.
In the 2020 NFL Draft, Miami used the No. 5 pick overall to draft Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. For now, 37-year old veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is still the starter in Miami. Fitzpatrick threw for 3,529 yards, 20 TDs, 13 INTs, and a 68.3 QBR last season.
The Dolphins will have a new look on their offensive line and backfield this season. Matt Breida and JordanHoward are expected to handle most of the ball carrying responsibilities. After rushing for over 900 yards in three straight season with the Chicago Bears, Howard rushed for 525 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per game as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Breida rushed for 623 yards on 5.1 yards per carry in 13 games with the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers last season.
The Dolphins return their leading receiver DeVante Parker who caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and 9 TDs last season. Parker is currently battling an upper-leg injury but expected to play on Sunday.
On the defensive side of the ball, Miami was dead last in the NFL, allowing 30.9 points per game. Miami was 27th against both the pass and rush last season, allowing 262.4 ypg in the air and 135.4 ypg on the ground. The Dolphins return linebacker Jerome Baker who led the team with 126 tackles in 2019.
The Dolphins are still not expected to be contenders this year. Caesar Sportsbook has Miami at 100-1 odds to win the Super Bowl with an over/under set at six wins.
Life after Tom Brady beginsComing into the season, the Patriots have 20-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, and the over/under preseason win total is set at 8.5. If the Patriots don't get to nine wins this season, it would be for the first time since 2000 when they went 5-11 under Bill Belichick's first year as the franchise's head coach.
The most significant moves of the offseason for the Patriots was not re-signing six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, Tom Brady. Now expected to be the team's new starting quarterback is veteran Cam Newton, who signed a one year $1.75 million contract in the offseason. Newton only played two games last season while battling injuries. Before last season, Newton was the franchise quarterback for the Carolina Panthers since 2011 and has thrown for 29,041 yards with a 182: 108 TD to INT ratio. Newton also has rushed for 4,806 yards and 58 TDs in his career.
The Patriots were 18th in the NFL, averaging 105.9 rushing yards last season, and return their leading back Sonny Michel who rushed for 912 yards and 7 TDs while averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Julian Edelman (100 catches for 1,117 yards) will be the top target again this year, as he is the only returning WR or TE returning to the roster that had over 400 yards receiving last year.
However, there is an issue with the Patriots and that's with players opting out this season. It starts with ILB Dont'a Hightower, one of the team leaders. He would have been instrumental in tutoring their young linebackers led by rookies Chase Winovich and Terez Hall and second-year player Ja'Whaun Bentley. Veteran safety Patrick Chung also decided to opt-out, along with right tackle Marcus Cannon. Both were slated to start this season.
The Patriots had the No.1 scoring and pass defense in the NFL last season, holding their opponents to just 14.4 ppg and 173.9 passing yards per game. They were 7th in rush defense, allowing 101.7 yards per game.
- Patriots are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games as a favorite
- Patriots are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Dolphins are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a road underdog
- Dolphins are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games against the AFC