Week 17 Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots At Miami Dolphins

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 30: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to throw against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at New Era Field on October 30, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 13: Damien Williams #26 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers during the second half against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
  • Quarterback
    The Patriots need a win here or a loss by the Oakland Raiders to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. They faced a similar situation last year in the season finale at Miami, but they were unable to win that game. While the Dolphins are improved this year, don’t look for any let-up from Tom Brady & Co.
    This will be a huge assignment for Matt Moore, who remain in the starting lineup as a result of Ryan Tannehill’s knee injury. The Dolphins picked up their 10th win of the season when they defeated Buffalo on the road in Week 16, and Moore showed he could lead his team and avoid major mistakes in the process. The Dolphins clinched a playoff spot when Denver lost at Kansas City Sunday night.
  • Offense
    The Patriots have gotten a huge season out of powerful running back LeGarrette Blount, who has become a touchdown machine while getting into the end zone 17 times. Fellow RBs Dion Lewis and James White have combined for 90 receptions. Wide receiver Julian Edelman is Brady’s favorite receiver and he leads the team with 90-955-9. Martellus Bennett is a dangerous tight end.
    The Dolphins started to turn the corner after a slow start this year when they started giving the ball running back Jay Ajayi (shoulder). He has had three 200-yard rushing games this season and he has gained 1,213 yards while averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Jarvis Landry is Miami’s most productive receiver, having caught 85-1,060-3.
  • Defense
    The Patriots have been playing consistently strong defense, and if they are going to go deep into the playoffs and possibly reach the Super Bowl, Matt Patricia’s defense must continue to stay ahead of their opponents. Patrick Chung is a big hitter who leads the team with 88 tackles. Cornerback Malcolm Butler has four interceptions and 21 passes defensed.
    While the Dolphins rank 30th in yards allowed and have looked quite vulnerable in this area throughout the season, don’t believe for a second that this group that this group is soft. Veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso is a smart leader who has a team-high 110 tackles and can go sideline-to-sideline to make plays. Ndamukong Suh is a bull in the middle of the defensive line and he has 68tackles and 5.0 sacks.
  • Special Teams
    The Patriots have had a few mis-steps on special teams this year, but this is still an area of strength for this team. They excel at punt and kickoff coverage, and veteran PK Stephen Gostkowski has been among the best clutch kickers in the game.
    The Dolphins have done a solid job in the return game, as they have gotten TD returns from Jakeem Grant and Kenyan Drake. Andrew Franks hit the game-winning field goal in overtime at Buffalo, but he is just an ordinary placekicker.
The Patriots know that winning in Miami is one of their toughest assignments, and this game could come down to the final possession.