It’s early in the season, but the AFC East implications are massive, as the Patriots (2-1, 1-1 AFC East) and Dolphins (2-1, 1-1) are trying to stay on pace with the Jets.
Those same Jets will likely gain a game on whoever loses this Monday night tilt as New York is taking on the lowly Bills on Sunday.
Monday, Oct. 4, 8:30 p.m.
Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Dolphins lead the all-time series, 50-39, including the Patriots’ 2-1 edge in the postseason. The Dolphins are 33-11 against the Pats in Miami, including a 15-8 mark in the current building, which has also been named Dolphins Stadium, Pro Player Stadium, Land Shark Stadium and Joe Robbie Stadium.
Interestingly, the Dolphins have hosted 13 of the 14 prime-time games between these teams. Miami is 5-4 against the Pats on Monday night, including a 5-3 mark in Florida.
The Patriots have won 10 of their last 15 meetings with the Dolphins.
The Dolphins might be itching to run their Wildcat, but the Patriots have long since found the Benadryl for that. So, the big-time matchup will be between New England’s secondary and Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound matchup nightmare.
Marshall has 22 catches for 290 yards and one touchdown in his first season in Miami, and he went off for 10 catches, 166 yards and one score last week against the Jets, who lined up equally-imposing cornerback Antonio Cromartie against him.
Marshall was a brute last year when his Broncos beat the visiting Patriots, as he caught eight passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns. He has caught 14 passes for 141 yards and two scores in three career games against New England.
Marshall spends most of his time lined up wide to the left side of the offense, which will put him across from either Kyle Arrington or Darius Butler. Arrington is the more physical of the two cornerbacks, so he might be a better option for the Patriots.
There’s no doubt that Marshall will do some damage, but the Patriots have to make sure he doesn’t take over the game.
From Thursday’s practice report
Until the Patriots prove they can beat a legitimate team on the road, it’s tough to feel optimistic about their chances. They’ve lost seven of their eight true road games since the start of 2009 (not including the victory against the Bucs in London), and they’ve experienced the same types of second-half issues.
Miami is a solid team with a great coaching staff and a balanced offense that will be tough for the Patriots to contain, but the Dolphins remain a work in progress on defense. There is a good chance this will be a fairly high-scoring game, which bodes well for the Patriots. However, they’re going to have to prove they can finish a road opponent.
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