Predicting the outcome

You would have to go back quite a long time for the last time the Dolphins entered a game as 13-point underdogs, but that's just the case for Sunday's game at New England. And on the surface it really does appear as though the Dolphins have no shot of handing the defending Super Bowl champions their first loss of the season. Here's how we think the game will unfold.

Really, is there any way the Dolphins can win this game?

As always, it goes back to the Dolphins offense giving the defense half a chance.

We believe the Dolphins defense is good enough to slow down a Patriots offense that has been very impressive so far this season.

The Dolphins contained Tom Brady and Co. very well last season, holding them to 13 points in regulation in the game at Miami and to 12 points in the snow at New England last December.

The key here is the Dolphins have the cornerback play, thanks to Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison, to keep the New England passing game in check.

The New England offensive line doesn't have big names on it, but it is very efficient and Brady is very good at moving in the pocket to avoid the rush.

But the Dolphins clearly could make life easier on themselves if Jason Taylor and Co. can apply some pressure.

The Dolphins offense has got to start playing better at some point during the season, doesn't it? New England's defense is too sound for the Dolphins to put up a lot of points this week and we're having a hard time envisioning Leonard Henry having a whole lot of success running the ball against the Patriots.

That means it's on Jay Fiedler to get the job done. The Dolphins won't beat many teams downfield anytime soon because the pass protection isn't good enough for those plays to develop and because throwing deep isn't Fiedler's forte.

That means the play-calling has to be imaginative and include a lot of roll-outs, screen passes and other things to keep New England off balance.

Getting a quick lead would do wonders for the Dolphins because it would keep the Pats from playing conservative offense, which is what the Dolphins' opponents have done this year.

Unfortunately, we just don't see the Dolphins having any success offensively. They couldn't score at Foxboro last December, so why should this be any different with an offense that's nowhere near as proficient.

We also have to wonder when the defense finally will break down and have a sub-par game.

We're not seeing it happening this weekend, but the Dolphins might have more problems with the Pats than they had with the Titans, Bengals, Steelers or Jets.

Can the Dolphins beat the Pats? Yes, but everything would have to go right and that's too much to ask.

The call: Patriots 23, Dolphins 6.

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