MIAMI DOLPHINS (3-3)
at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (5-2)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: New England -6.5, Total: 57.5
Slumping AFC East foes square off Sunday when the Dolphins visit the Patriots.
Miami has dropped three straight games (SU and ATS), but the past two have come by a combined five points. New England has lost two of three, with those two defeats coming by 10 total points. These slides can both be attributed heavily to poor quarterback play over the past three weeks with Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill completing just 55% of his passes with 5 INT, while Pats QB Tom Brady has a 51% completion rate, 5.5 YPA, 1 TD, 3 INT and 13 sacks taken. But Brady has thrown for 283 YPG, 11 TD and 2 INT during a six-game SU win streak (4-1-1 ATS) over Miami. He might also get his top wide receiver back with Danny Amendola, who missed last Sunday's overtime loss to the Jets with a concussion, but has been practicing all week and expects to play against Miami. Although the Dolphins are in a free-fall, underdogs with a winning percentage between 45% and 55% after being beaten by the spread by 28+ points in their previous three games are 31-9 ATS (78%) over the past 10 seasons. However, New England is 11-2 ATS (85%) off a division game since the start of 2011, winning these games by an average score of 35 to 15.
Which AFC East team will get back in the win column on Sunday? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are heating up in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 54.1% ATS record (33-28-2) over the past four weeks. StatFox Scott is 64.3% ATS (9-5) in the past three weeks, while StatFox Brian went 3-2 ATS in Week 7, marking his fourth straight week of finishing .500 or better. He was also 3-1 in NFL Totals in Week 7. StatFox Gary is 57.1% ATS (8-6-1) in NFL Best Bets over the past four weeks.
Miami QB Ryan Tannehill hasn't been great lately, but he still tossed three touchdowns in last week's 23-21 loss to the Bills. However, his Dolphins managed just 16 total points in getting swept by the Patriots last year, as Tannehill completed only 51.6% of his passes for 421 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT. But while Miami's air attack has been average this season (235 passing YPG, 16th in NFL), its ground game has been dreadful with just 78 rushing YPG (25th in league). Although top RB Lamar Miller has a respectable 254 yards on 59 carries (4.3 YPC), backup RB Daniel Thomas continues to drag this offense down with a mere 3.4 yards per carry on his 39 attempts. A big reason why the Dolphins have just 313 total YPG this season (6th-worst in NFL) is because they have the fourth-worst time of possession (27:27), but have done a great job on capitalizing on their opportunities with a 72.2% red-zone efficiency (2nd in the NFL. Defensively, Miami has really done a solid job against the run by holding teams to 103 YPG on 3.8 YPC, but the club has surrendered 269 passing YPG (25th in NFL) and has been on the field for 32:32 (5th-most in league). During their six-game losing skid to the Patriots, the Dolphins have forced a total of just three turnovers while committing 12 miscues. Top pass-rushing DE Cameron Wake played limited snaps last week in his return from a knee injury, but he expects to play his typical workload on Sunday. Wake has 4.5 sacks during his team's six-game losing skid to the Patriots.
Patriots QB Tom Brady might finally have his full complement of receivers to use this week if WR Danny Amendola (concussion) is cleared to play. Amendola has logged just one full game all year, but has still been targeted 27 times, resulting in 16 catches. Speaking of targets, Brady wasted no time in getting star TE Rob Gronkowski back in the flow of things with 17 targets, but due to some poor passes, Gronkowski pulled in just eight of those attempts, but still managed 114 yards. He has also fared quite well against the Dolphins with 21 catches for 308 yards and 3 TD in his past four meetings. The Patriots are averaging just 5.5 yards per pass attempt (3rd-worst in NFL), and have been subpar in the red zone as well with a 45.8% conversion rate (26th in NFL), two areas in which a healthy Gronkowski should provide a big boost in. Having a slightly above-average ground game (116 rushing YPG, 13th in NFL) hasn't helped much, but top RB Stevan Ridley has run very well in two games since returning from injury with 146 yards on 31 carries (4.7 YPC) and three touchdowns. The Patriots' defense hopes that top CB Aqib Talib, who missed last week's game with a hip injury, can return to action, but New England's run defense is a bigger concern without LB Jerod Mayo (pectoral) and DTs Vince Wilfork (Achilles) and Tommy Kelly (knee). After allowing the Jets to keep the ball for 46:13 and gain 177 yards on 52 carries, the Patriots now rank second-to-last in the NFL in run defense (127 YPG) and seventh-worst in time of possession (31:36). One area this defense has thrived in has been forcing turnovers with 13 takeaways in seven games.