On Saturday afternoon, the night before Christmas, two of the hottest teams in all of football will get together on the Gillette Stadium field for sixty minutes of hard fought football. The first team is a team that is no stranger to success: the New England Patriots. The Patriots come into the game as winners of six in a row with a first round bye nearly in hand. The second team is the Miami Dolphins who... wait, the Miami Dolphins? Believe it or not, the Dolphins have won five out of their last seven games and are playing better football than they have all season. Of course, this streak came after losing their first seven games but, hey, good football is good football. Miami seems to enjoy the roll of spoiler, and they can play that role perfectly by going into Foxboro and taking out the mighty Patriots on Saturday afternoon.
The Patriots come into Saturday's Week 16 matchup as the number one team in the AFC at 11-3. The math for the Patriots is fairly simple: if they win their two remaining games they will be the number one seed in the conference. After that, it gets kind of foggy, due to the fact that Houston, Pittsburg and Baltimore are one game behind, which means that if the Patriots lose out and the other teams win, the Patriots could find themselves as low as fourth. Of course, all the Patriots care about is winning the last two games, so you can expect to treat both of them like must win games.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, are playing for pride. Not only have they been eliminated from the playoffs, but they have also won too many games to be in the Andrew Luck "Sweepstakes". So for the Dolphins, it's all about going out there and beating a team that is better than them. And while Reggie Bush has been having career games in recent weeks and Matt Moore looks more and more like a starting quarterback, the Dolphins haven't exactly been beating top notch teams, though they did beat up on the Raiders and play a tough game against the Cowboys.
So should the Patriots be worried? Yes. It's not that the Patriots would even think of playing soft, it's that the Dolphin offense has shown in recent weeks that they are for real. While the Patriots did shut down the Broncos last week, to a certain extent, they did show some issues with the run. If Bush can continue to show bursts that make you feel like itâ€™s 2004 all over again, you could run into a situation where he runs all over the Pats. And while Matt Moore isn't Tom Brady, he has better accuracy than Tim Tebow, which means a better chance for some deep balls.
As for the Patriots, expect a lot more of the same from Brady and Co. Brady is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career, with numbers that look like they are going to match last season's totals. The Patriots have become comfortable in the last couple of years being an under the radar team, which is exactly what they are this season. If they beat the Dolphins and the Bills in the final two weekends they would go into the playoffs 13-3. Of course, they could also be playing the Jets or the Steelers in the second round, which is not exactly what they would want to see. Of course, if the Patriots start looking ahead now they may be surprised by a good Dolphins team who would love nothing more than to ruin the Patriots plans.