Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots Prediction: Can the Dolphins Play Spoiler to New England's AFC East Title Hopes?

NFL expert Mike Spector breaks down the Week 18 AFC East matchup between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.
Mike Spector |
Tue, January 4, 1:05 PM EST | 7 min read
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Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots Prediction: Can the Dolphins Play Spoiler to New England's AFC East Title Hopes?

Though the New England Patriots have already clinched a playoff berth, they are possibly playing for a division title, as they would be AFC East champions with a win and a loss by Buffalo. Conversely, the Miami Dolphins seemingly have little to play for as they have been eliminated from playoff contention. So will the Dolphins be excited to play the role of spoiler, or will the Patriots roll in this regular-season finale and build momentum heading into the playoffs?

Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Sunday, January 9

Game Time: 4:25 pm ET

Where to Watch: CBS

Click Here for Dolphins vs Patriots Odds

Dolphins vs. Patriots INJURY REPORT

Patriots

Questionable: RB Damien Harris, S Adrian Phillips, OT Isaiah Wynn

Out: CB Myles Bryant, OT Will Sherman, WR Nelson Agholor

Dolphins

Questionable: CB Noah Igbinoghene, S Sheldrick Redwine

Out: WR Lynn Bowden Jr., Allen Hurns

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Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots Prediction

New England did more than just take care of business against the lowly Jaguars last week. They obliterated Jacksonville 50-10, and in the process, got their rookie quarterback feeling better about himself after back-to-back poor performances. Jones threw three touchdown passes to break the franchise record (20) of most touchdown passes by a rookie. In addition, there were a lot of question marks surrounding New England's defense entering this week, but they responded with three interceptions and held the Jaguars to just 253 yards of total offense. With the win, New England clinched their 17th playoff berth in the last 19 seasons.

Miami was one of the hottest teams in football entering last week, but they had their seven-game winning streak snapped in a 34-3 loss to the Titans. It was Miami's 3rd loss of at least 28 points this season. In addition, Tua Tagovailoa had an unusually poor day from a completion percentage standpoint, as the league leader in that statistic completed just 47.4% of his 38 passes. 

The Titans did a fantastic job of taking away Miami's best weapon, Jaylen Waddle. Waddle entered the game with at least eight receptions in five of his previous six outings but was held to just three catches, his lowest total since October 10th. In addition, his 47 yards was his fourth-lowest total of the season, and Miami's offense looked lost without his explosive play-making. Thus, it should concern Miami backers given Bill Belichick's history of taking an opponent's No. 1 option away.

When these teams met in Week 1, New England was deep in Miami territory and was in position for the go-ahead score with three minutes left when Damien Harris fumbled and Miami escaped with a 17-16 victory. Many bettors will look at that game and suggest New England is the right side because New England should have won in what was Mac Jones' first NFL start, and he has made tremendous strides since.

However, we are backing the Dolphins not because of many X's and O's, but because the situation lends itself to fading New England. First, the Patriots have won just two of their last nine games in December and January in South Florida. When defensive captain Devin McCourty was asked about their poor track record late in the season in Miami, he said, "I know one thing, it's hard to go from this weather to 80 degrees. It's always a little bit of a shock in pre-game." 

In addition, while Bill Belichick has historically been in favor of playing his starters in regular-season finales, he may do a bit of scoreboard watching and remove starters from the game under certain circumstances. If Buffalo beats the Jets, New England is locked into the No. 5, 6, or 7 seed. Given that the Bills are 17-point favorites over New York, it is highly likely that they get out to a big lead, which means New England's hopes of winning the division would be gone. In addition, the Patriots had Damien Harris, Adrian Phillips, and Isaiah Wynn all leave last week's win against Jacksonville with injuries. Thus, Belichick may look at that and figure going into the playoffs healthy is the most important thing, especially if there is nothing much other than wild-card seeding to play for.

Circumstances aside, this is still a Dolphins team that recently won seven straight games. They are a good football team and face an opponent with terrible history in their city late in the season. That is more than enough reason to grab nearly a touchdown.

Dolphins vs. Patriots Pick

  • Dolphins +6.5 (-110)

Mike Spector
@MikeSpector01

Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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