Breaking down the game

The New England Patriots sure don't have the look these days of a team that has won three of the last four Super Bowls, particularly after Monday's 40-21 loss to the Colts left them at 4-4. But the Pats still have Tom Brady and they still lead the AFC East. The Dolphins shocked New England last year at Dolphins Stadium and they'll be looking to make it two in a row against Brady and the boys Sunday.

But regardless of how banged up the Patriots are and how poorly they've played on defense, this is still a tough matchup for the Dolphins.

The biggest problem, as we see it, is the fact that the Miami secondary isn't very good and Brady is very, very good -- and he has a great receiving corps to boot.

It's not a receiving corps with a lot of marquee value, but Deion Branch, David Givens and Troy Brown give Brady plenty of options to go along with two tight ends who were first-round picks, Benjamin Watson and Daniel Graham.

Of course, the Dolphins also will have to deal with running back Corey Dillon, but we're thinking it's the New England passing game that will be the biggest challenge for the Dolphins defense.

The Dolphins have varied their number of blitzes this season depending on the opposing quarterback, and we're thinking this is a week when they need to go all out.

If Brady has time to look over the defense, he's likely to pick apart a secondary that won't be able to cover all of his receivers.

Of course, getting pressure without having to blitz is the ideal scenario for the Dolphins, but if Jason Taylor and Co. can't get there on their own, it is an absolute must that the Dolphins blitz.

The Dolphins have had success against Brady in the past, but they also have had good secondaries, with guys such as Patrick Surtain, Sammy Knight, Brian Walker and Sam Madison at the top of his game.

Well, Madison isn't at the top of his game anymore and the other guys are gone. And the Dolphins secondary has gone from a strength to perhaps the biggest weakness on the team.

Really, it's difficult to envision the Dolphins totally shutting down Brady this time, so we're thinking the Dolphins offense will have to contribute.

As mentioned, the Pats have given yardage in big chunks this season and the Dolphins clearly should be able to run the ball, either with Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams, or both.

But it's in the passing game where the Dolphins must do some damage.

We've said this for the past few weeks now, but Gus Frerotte needs to step up his game, plain and simple.

And Chris Chambers, who this week sort of expressed his displeasure at Nick Saban's comment that the Dolphins had "decent" receivers, could pick the perfect opportunity to make his point on the field.

This is not a very good New England secondary the Dolphins will be going up against, with Rodney Harrison, Tyrone Poole and Duane Starks all on injured reserve.

The Dolphins were not a very good team when they beat the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots last December, so it's not too much to hope they can do it again.

But the Dolphins do have to make some plays in the passing game, something they just haven't done often enough so far this season.


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