Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots Week 1 Predictions: Against the Spread, Total, and Props
AFC East rivals square off in Week 1 when the Miami Dolphins (0-0) travel to Foxborough to face the New England Patriots (0-0). The Patriots are currently favorites by a field goal (-3) hosting the Dolphins who are (+145) on the moneyline to win this matchup on September 12, 2021, at 4:25 PM ET on CBS. A point total of points has been set for the game by the oddsmakers.
These divisional rivals will likely be chasing the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East standings and they find themselves in a race for second place right at the start of the season. Two young former Alabama quarterbacks share the spotlight in this one, with Miami turning to 2nd-year man, Tua Tagovailoa and New England opting to start rookie Mac Jones.
Miami Dolphins Preview
The Dolphins finally seemed to be a franchise that has turned the corner. After stockpiling draft picks and "tanking for Tua" Miami seems poised to make a playoff push in 2021. Despite a 10-6 record, Miami did not reach the playoffs in 2020.
Last season, Tua Tagovailoa threw for 1,814 yards while completing 64.1% of his passes (186-of-290), with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions last year (113.4 yards per game). Tua faced the Patriots once last season, completing 20 of 26 passes for 145 yards and an interception (along with 9 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs) during a 22-12 Week 15 victory in Miami. This is not the same defensive opponent in 2021 though.
Tua is learning a new playbook, and he could be without multiple pieces of the offense come Sunday afternoon. Left tackle Austin Jackson and TE Adam Shaheen are questionable currently due to COVID-19. New receiver Will Fuller V is also out for the opener, finishing out his suspension from 2020.
Miami Head Coach Brian Flores lead this defense that finished 11th in DVOA in 2020. The Dolphins had 41 sacks and an NFL-best 29 takeaways (18 INTs) last year, lead by cornerback Xavien Howard who reeled in 10 interceptions and added 62 tackles.
New England Patriots Preview
The Patriots and Head Coach Bill Belichick made the decision just last week to cut Quarterback and former MVP, Cam Newton. With this news, the Patriots have shown they are ready for a fresh start. The one they've been looking for since Tom Brady left for Tampa. Albeit this season will come along with many growing pains with a rookie quarterback at the helm, the Pats are still favored in Mac Jones's rookie debut.
Jones is surrounded by an offense that isn't exactly loaded with weapons but more with trustworthy targets. Lead by active pass-catching running backs and a strong tight end group. The Pats signed Tight Ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry along with Wide-Receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. Running-Back Damien Harris will be the lead back in 2021. Harris another Alabama product, last season ran for 691 yards on 137 carries (57.6 yards per game) while scoring 2 touchdowns.
The strength of New England is by far the defense. Coach Belichick's bread and butter is defense. He went ahead and added plenty more on that side of the ball in free agency as the Patriots went on a spending spree this offseason. The Pats signed; Linebacker Matt Judon, Defensive End Kyle Van Noy, and Safety Jalen Mills. We can expect Bill Belichick’s defensive group to rank among the elite once again in 2021, getting Dont’a Hightower back and adding guys like this.
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots Predictions
This game will be a defensive battle with both of these rosters ranking in the top half of the league. The total of 43.5 is the second-lowest of Week 1. The Patriots had the No. 27 scoring offense in the NFL last season (20.4 points per game) and will be up against what was the fifth-ranked defense in the league (the Dolphins allowed just 21.1 ppg). New England is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games played in week 1.
My favorite nugget for this matchup might just be the next one; New England was 16th in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage a year ago (40.9%), and will be facing the first-ranked Miami third-down defense from last season (31.2%). This is something to watch out for this Sunday. The Dolphins were underdogs in nine games last season and won five of those outright. When playing as at least a point underdog like this on Sunday, Miami went 5-2 ATS in those games.
With all this said I know not to bet against Bill. I think Miami will finish 2nd in the AFC East this season ahead of the Pats but this line of -3 is too short as I think this game will be decided by a field goal and I'm not quite sure which way with so many moving parts for these two sides. The bet I am more inclined to take here is the Under 43.5.
My favorite prop I will be on in this one is actually a Patriots running backs receiving total. We may get the Belichick games with the running back position not knowing who is the true starter but I'll bank on it being Damien Harris. His receiving yards total is set at just 3.5 yards right now and that means we most likely need just 1 catch from him to hit this prop. With a rookie QB expect to see some quick dump-offs to the running backs and let's cash this one on Sunday!
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots Picks