The New England Patriots have created some distance between themselves and the rest of the AFC East with their 6-0 start, and they could essentially eliminate the Miami Dolphins from contention in the division in Week 8. The Patriots host the Dolphins on Thursday night, looking to end Miami’s recent hot streak.
The Dolphins have rebounded from their 1-3 start with two straight wins, and they are looking to go above .500 for the first time since Week 1. The Patriots haven’t lost a meaningful game at home in three years.
New England is 14-5-2 against the spread in their last 21 games at home, via OddsShark.com, and they will have to win by more than a touchdown to improve that record on Thursday. They are favored by 7.5 points in Week 8 and the over/under is 51 points, according to vegasinsider.com.
Since Miami fired head coach Joe Philbin, they’ve played like a completely different team. After losing three of their first four games, including two defeats to under .500 teams, the Dolphins have been the NFL’s most dominant team under Dan Campbell in the last two weeks.
Miami has consecutive victories over the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, winning by a combined 46 points. In their 38-10 win at Tennessee, the Dolphins outgained the Titans by 135 yards. Miami beat Houston 44-26, but the game wasn’t nearly as close as the score might indicate. The Dolphins led 41-0 at halftime, allowing Brian Hoyer to throw three meaningless touchdown passes. Ryan Tannehill had a perfect passer rating, completing 18 of 19 passes for 282 yards and four scores.
Thursday will be Miami’s toughest test, by far. Tennessee and Houston are two of the NFL’s worst teams, combining to go 3-10, thus far. New England is undefeated, having won every game by at least a touchdown.
Patriots Still Boast Best Offense
New England has dealt with their share of injuries this season, dressing just six offensive linemen in Week 7. But despite their issues, the Patriots still have the best offense in the league.
The Patriots rank first in the league, averaging 35.5 points per game and never scoring fewer than 28 points in any contest. Tom Brady is playing perhaps the best football of his career, throwing for 2,054 yards, 16 touchdowns and one interception in six games. Rob Gronkowski remains one of the most dangerous weapons in the league, and he’s on pace to end the season with 1,421 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Brady has been terrific with a limited running game and banged up offensive line. Running back Dion Lewis is averaging 5.0 yards per carry, but he missed the last game with an injury, forcing New England to hand the ball off just five times against the New York Jets. They even survived six dropped passes from Brandon LaFell, something that isn’t likely to happen again all year.
The Dolphins turned the tables on the Patriots in their last few games, going 2-1 against their AFC East rivals since December 2013. But New England has dominated the rivalry in the Brady-Belichick era, and that will likely continue in 2015.
In their last matchup, New England defeated Miami by 28 points in last year's final game. The victory gave the Patriots eight wins in their last 10 games over the Dolphins, including a seven-game win streak from 2010-2013. Miami hasn’t taken three out of four from New England since 2002.
Miami is finally playing like many experts predicted they would perform this season, and they have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. But their dominance over the last two weeks has been a bit of an aberration, especially considering the level of their competition. New England is the best team in football, and they are virtually unbeatable at home. They should do what they’ve done to every one of their opponents, and win by at least a touchdown.
New England over Miami, 31-20