Keys to the game for the Dolphins to win on Sunday by Dolphins Digest's Alain Poupart and Patriots Insider's Jon Scott
AP: The Dolphins passed for 360 yards in the first meeting against New England, taking advantage of the Pats' injury-riddled secondary. The way the Pats have been stopping the run lately, that figures to be Miami's ticket to success offensively again. Of course, that
means the Dolphins will have to keep Gus Frerotte standing.
JS: The Patriot secondary has been able to recoup some of their early season embarrassment due to the outstanding play of the front seven. If Miami can find a way to get some semblance of a ground game going it should open things up for Gus Frerotte to find Chris Chambers downfield. Teams going for long passes or fade patterns on Asante Samuels' side of the field have exploited the Patriots cornerbacks. In the first game Chambers had his way against Samuel, but not against the rookie Ellis Hobbs. Look for Miami to try to exploit the questionable New England secondary.
AP: The Dolphins have played Tom Brady pretty tough through the years, but what they haven't done is shut him down at crunch time. If Brady plays the entire game and it's a close one, the pressure will be on the Miami defense to make a big play. The Dolphins pass rush has been really good lately, but the Dolphins have to be careful about blitzing too much because Brady could easily exploit a mediocre secondary.
JS: Much has been talked about with the Patriots rush defense improvement. What hasn't been mentioned has been the status of the Patriots ground game. In their last matchup, newly signed Heath Evans tore through the Dolphins defense as if he were on a mission. Playing his former team due to a rash of injuries to the Pats normal backs, Evans got the call and played up. The Patriots have been trying to establish the run, and have yet to get it fully on track. If the Dolphins can slow down, the Corey Dillon, Patrick Pass, Kevin Faulk, Heath Evans combo, they should be able to find a way to get to Brady. If they can't slow down the run, Brady will use play action to pick apart the defense, assuming Doug Flutie hasn't filled in after halftime.
AP: The Dolphins have been tremendous in kick coverage all season, so there's no reason to think the Pats returners will be a major factor here. On the flip side, the Dolphins haven't gotten any big returns themselves and they sure could use one in this game. Punter Donnie Jones has been a weapon for the Dolphins all season, with nine games with a net average of over 40 yards.
JS: The Patriots are concerned about giving up big plays on special teams. It was a major focus in the preseason, and early on during the regular season. The team shook up the roster a number of times to try to get control of the situation. They have fared well recently, but a good return unit can put the Dolphins on a short field, and that's one of the best ways to score points against this team. Field position is likely going to play a big part in the cold snowy conditions in Foxboro.
Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor for the Dolphins Digest, and can be found at DolphinsDigest.com. You can reach Alain by sending him an e-mail here: Link
Jon Scott has been covering the NFL for over ten seasons. A member of PWFA, and managing editor of Patriots insider you can reach him here: Link