By Danny Cox
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are on a clear course for the NFL postseason, but they’re not in there yet. A win in Week 15 over the Miami Dolphins will put them in the playoffs and working toward a first-round bye with home-field advantage. Still, they’ve got to get past a Dolphins team that defeated them in the first game of the season, and one that is fighting for their own playoff lives.
CBS Sports’ own Dan Fouts spoke on the upcoming AFC East match-up between two of the three teams in that division that are still alive in the playoff race. The New York Jets have mathematically been eliminated, but Miami, New England and Buffalo are still in the running. The Dolphins and Pats haven’t seen each other in many weeks and a lot has changed, but the stakes are even higher now and both need a win.
How can the Dolphins possibly contain Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski?
Dan Fouts: “It starts with the pass rush and the Dolphins have a good one. They’ve got two great edge rushers in Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake, who created problems for Tom Brady earlier in the year. The funny thing about this game is that they haven’t played each other since the first week of the season and a lot has changed. The one constant for the Dolphins is those two edge rushers, and they’ve got to make things uncomfortable for Brady or he will just pick you apart.”
Do you currently see New England as the favorite to win the Super Bowl?
DF: “A lot can happen in the next few weeks and the playoffs…they’re certainly in the conversation. Along with Denver in the AFC…we’ve seen things in the past that the playoffs can change a lot for any team and you never know what will happen. Their primary goal right now is to get home-field advantage.”
In the first game of the season, the Dolphins seemed to easily handle the Patriots. How are things different this time around?
DF: “A lot has changed as players have been injured, others have moved ahead on the depth chart, and some have regressed. The Patriots are always going to be dangerous and the Dolphins know that. It goes back again to Vernon and Wake. They have to make life uncomfortable for Brady in that game or he’s going to do what he can do to anyone and it’ll take them apart.”
Is this game a must-win for the Dolphins to reach the playoffs?
DF: “It may not be a must-win for the Dolphins, but it will make things a lot more difficult for them in the final two weeks of the season. They already need to win and get help, but a loss is going to make it extremely tough on them.”
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.