After the first three weeks, it looked like the Miami Dolphins would be the biggest challengers to the New England Patriots in the division. A lot has changed leading up to the first 2013 matchup between the two teams.
Miami started the season at 3-0, sharing a first-place lead with the Patriots. They defeated the Atlanta Falcons in a Week Three contest that appeared to be a statement to the rest of the NFL. Since their big victory, though, the Dolphins have not won a game.
The Dolphins are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, most recently falling to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. Miami had a four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but was unable to muster up any offense in the final 15 minutes, losing 23-21.
“We haven't made as many plays in the fourth quarter in the last three weeks,” head coach Joe Philbin said. “That's why the outcome of the game has been not in our favor."
However, it hasn’t just been the end of games where Miami has struggled. In Week Four against the New Orleans Saints, they were down by 25 points at the end of the third quarter. The following week, they came back from a 10-point deficit in the last few minutes, only to allow a game-winning field goal.
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During their losing streak, the Dolphins have committed turnovers at a higher rate than their opponents. More specifically, Ryan Tannehill has not taken care of the football. He’s turned the ball over seven times as Miami has remained winless in October.
At the start of the season, Tannehill appeared to have made a big leap in his sophomore campaign. His completion percentage was up from a year ago, as well as his touchdown to interception ratio. Now, he’s playing like he did as a rookie. In addition to his struggles, Tannehill is dealing with a shoulder injury.
"We're in a tough spot right now," said Tannehill. "We have to face the adversity and grow from it. There are two ways we can go. We can tank it, or we can turn it around."
It might have been more advantageous for the Dolphins if they could have played the Patriots earlier in the season. Last week, Rob Gronkowski finally made his season debut. He caught eight passes for 14 yards in his return.
"You always get the jitters the first game back and everything. It's just football now, Gronkowski said. "This is my fourth year. I've got to just go out there and do what I've got to do, listen to the coaches, listen to the players and just practice to the best of my ability so I can be ready for Sunday, and keep a rhythm going every single week."
New England's No.1 wide receiver, is ready to come back on the field. After missing most of September, Danny Amendola came back for one game and suffered another injury. He appears to have recovered from a concussion he suffered against the Saints. Tom Brady is listed on the Patriots injury report, but he’ll start in New England.
The Dolphins have lost their last six games against the Patriots. They were shut out by New England in last year’s regular season finale.
Las Vegas Betting Odds: New England favored by 6.5 points
Over-Under: 45 points
Where To Watch Online: NFL Sunday Ticket Max
Kickoff Time: 1:00 PM Eastern Time
TV Channel: CBS
Prediction; New England 34, Miami 24