The 8-5 Miami Dolphins will play hosts to the 6-7 New England Patriots on Sunday in their home finale looking to keep pace in the AFC Playoff race and hold onto their playoff berth.
The Dolphins are 3-2 in their last five games and coming off a tough loss to the Kansas City Chiefs where quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw his first career interception and Miami took even more hits to the injury list as a team.
Miami’s Only Hope For Playoffs Now is Wild Card
This will be an important game for the Dolphins as they try to fend off their playoff seed against the Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and more in what is coming down to a tight wild card battle for three spots between six total teams. After the Buffalo Bills won the AFC East with a beat down of the Denver Broncos on Saturday Night Football, it’s Wild Card or bust for the Dolphins.
New England Not Out of 2020 Playoffs Yet
The Patriots are also fighting to keep playoff hopes alive, but a lot of teams need to lose for their dreams to come true, Miami included. New England is on the outside looking in despite currently having a stronghold on a tiebreaker with the Dolphins, but a loss on Sunday could nullify that as well.
Dolphins Could Be Missing Key Offensive Players
This could be another tough game for the Dolphins offensively, as they could be missing some key players in their game plan. Mike Gesicki left last Sunday’s contest with what looked to be a broken collarbone. While starting the week doubtful to play and with talks of surgery, the tight end elevated to questionable and was seen catching passes in limited capacity at practice. He will likely be a game-time decision.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker nicked his hamstring last week as well, forcing him to leave the game in the first quarter, but ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe reported that as long as he has no pregame setbacks he will play. Meanwhile, WR Jakeem Grant, who is dealing with a chest injury, among others, was limited in practice all week and seems the least likely of the three to play as of Saturday night.
“Gesicki, Parker and Grant were all limited, and they’ll be questionable for the game. As far as surgery (for Gesicki), I don’t have those answers… I’m not a doctor, I don’t know if he avoided or needs. I can tell you about Cover 2, I can’t tell you anything about an MRI,” Miami head coach Brian Flores said about the status of the three more notable players.
Patriots Also On Recent Skid
Meanwhile, New England head coach Bill Belichick and his Patriots are also 3-2 in their last five games. They too are coming off a tough loss, coming at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams two Thursdays ago, helping give a little extra rest to his club. The beat down saw New England uncharacteristically not find the end zone. But, that seems to be more of the same for QB Cam Newton who has struggled through the air this season, notching only five passing TDs and double his interceptions.
Belichick Has Strong History Against Rookie QBs; New England Must Make Playoffs Without Tom Brady
With so much on the line, the Dolphins are looking to hold on tight to the No. 7 seed in the playoffs and build momentum into their final games. Belichick being an astonishing 21-5 all-time against rookie QBs must shed a cloud of doubt for Miami in the game, but Flores, being a prodigy of Belichick, of all people, is just the guy to call the upset. The Patriots are looking to start the miracle push they need to make it to that seventh spot instead however, and see what life is like in the playoffs after QB Tom Brady. This is a big game for both teams and should be tightly contested throughout.
“I think (Tua needs to) just go through his normal routine and preparation – watching the film, doing a good job in meetings, doing a good job in walkthrough, doing a good job in practice, learning over the course of the week, getting more familiar with the things that they do and just try to execute,” Flores said on having a similar defensive scheme to the Patriots and how Tagovailoa can benefit from that.. “At the end of the day, that’s what it boils down to, and it’s not just Tua; it’s the o-line, the backs, the receivers, the tight ends. We’ve got to execute defensively, we’ve got to execute in the kicking game and try to put a total team effort together.”