AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW Sun: New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins

For so long the Patriots were the kingpins of this division especially in the Brady/Belichick era and whilst the latter of that duo remains at the helm in New England the former is long gone.

There was no doubt that Brady made the Patriots tick and second-year quarterback Mac Jones faced quite a task replacing an icon of the game with nowhere near the skill position players that Brady had at his disposal. Having said that Jones had a very sound first season in which his 22 touchdowns and 3,801 passing yards led all rookie quarterbacks.

Jones comes into this game though having lost the 2021 season’s opening and closing games to the Dolphins, the only team that beat Jones multiple times during his first NFL regular season. Coach Belichick has already made one unusual move this week flying the Patriots to South Florida on Tuesday and spent the week practicing in the kind of heat and humidity they’ll face in Sunday’s opener against the Dolphins. Maybe that’s to counter the fact that the Patriots are 2-7 in their last nine games in Miami and this is a very young New England team with key players who are being exposed to some things for the first time. A master planner Belichick may use this as an extreme example of his ability to get the small details just right.

One element of the Patriots play that needs addressing is their offence that looked out of sync during training camp practices and the pre-season games throughout August. One of the reasons for that appeared to be the play calling combination of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge just didn’t gel at all and with proven offensive playmakers lacking on the Patriots offence this may be a tough grind despite their early Floridian arrival. Last year the Dolphins defensive unit restricted Mac Jones to yardage totals of 281 and 261 yards with just two touchdowns.

New England will more than likely play it simple on offence and will be looking to work the clock via the ground game with their offensive line still an asset and controlling the clock will also keep a potentially explosive Dolphins offence off the field. Rhamondre Stevenson looks the favourite to lead the Patriots running backs in usage, a unit that were ranked 8th in the NFL last year in rushing attempts with 489.

As for the Patriots passing game well it looks limited at best and it’s a unit that lost second-round pick Tyquan Thornton who broke his collarbone in August leaving them with the less than dynamic pairing of ex-Dolphin DeVante Parker and Jakobi Meyers as their two main wide receivers. Parker may though have caught a break as Miami are missing one of their starting corners in Byron Jones. Meyers so far in his NFL career has recorded just two TD’s from 168 catches.

I would expect the Patriots to play with two tight end formations a lot of the time and feature Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith and I’d be more excited about that duos ability to get open and score touchdowns than the Patriots wide receiving group.

Miami enter the fray with a new/rookie head coach in Mike McDaniel who likes to play in a quick style on offence. The Dolphins enter full of confidence and look to be one of those teams who could have a breakout season as they try for a fourth consecutive win in this series something the Dolphins haven’t done since topping New England five consecutive times between 1999 and 2001. They are 3-1 when playing host to the Patriots in Week 1 games with the teams locked at 5-5 head-to-head in season openers.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will be in his second season as the starter and there are still some doubts about his ability to totally command this offence although Miami have added the right pieces to this side of the ball for Tua to show his best side. He’s never lost to the Patriots having beaten them three times even though he hasn’t been particularly impressive in any of those starts, throwing for 456 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Some of Tagovailoa’s problems last year were caused by an offensive line that was a little porous and the additions of left tackle Terron Armstead and centre Connor Williams should prove a big help. The biggest supplement to the offence in Miami came via the acquisition of former Chiefs quicksilver wide receiver Tyreek Hill who has the speed and ability to really stretch the field for the Dolphins. The receiver’s top two games last season came in the first month, and he scored in each of his first four games in the 2020 season. If he’s fit Jaylen Waddle (he’s been slowed by a quad issue for the past few weeks) will provide another threat as he’s as speedy as Hill whilst the ground game has a nice 1-2 punch via Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert.

The Patriots secondary looks very vulnerable and it’s not hard to see Hill having a big game on his first start for the Dolphins especially as McDaniel looks to play his high percentage passing game. Miami are seeking a seventh consecutive home victory and if they are to be a force to be reckoned with this year these are the types of games that they ought to be winning against a side that has regressed over the past few years.


ANDY RICHMOND is a lifelong punter and sports enthusiast who now writes extensively on horse racing and the NFL. His CV includes long spells on Timeform Radio and Racing UK having previously held several positions at the then-fledgling Betfair Exchange where he worked for six years. He has a particular love for the statistical and analytical side of sports which fits in well with the NFL. He writes all the NFL content on Paul Jones subscription service as well as having his own betting advisory service.


BACK Tyreek Hill +66.5 receiving yards 1.5pts at 5/6 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (SEPT 2022): LOSS -2.21 points
(Excluding ante-post recommendations CLICK HERE)