The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins begin 2022 with one of their favorite traditions: A Week 1 game playing against each other. The two have played their season opener against each other in the last two seasons, with New England winning in 2020 and Miami winning in 2021.
The Patriots had a history of struggling in Miami with Tom Brady, and that seems to have carried over into the Mac Jones era. The Patriots bookended 2021 with losses to the Dolphins after dropping a December game in Miami at the end of the Cam Newton season.
Interesting to note: The Dolphins have won five straight December games against the Patriots. The last time the Pats beat the Dolphins in December was during Brady’s Deflategate season.
There are questions for both teams, although the projection for both is likely to finish behind Buffalo in the division and middle of the pack in the conference. But, how do these two match up in this game? Where does the value lie?
New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins Betting Odds
This line opened at Miami -2.5 way back in May. There’s been some movement in-between -3 and -2.5, but the line has settled at a field goal across the market. That implies that Vegas power ranks these two teams equally and that the home team is given three points for home-field advantage.
The total has slowly been bet up from 44.5 to its current 46.5 number. I think the line movement is legitimate, although Bill Belichick trends towards the Under away from Foxborough. The Patriots are 32-16 to the under away from home since 2016.
New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins Prediction
Offensively, the Patriots have all their main talent back. Jones returns alongside most of his (talented) offensive line, all of his pass-catchers alongside former Dolphin DeVante Parker, and all of his running backs.
But the Patriots lost longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is gone, and the coaching staff has become a big question mark. Joe Judge and Matt Patricia are, supposedly, “auditioning” for playcalling duties. Judge is working with the skill weapons while Patricia works with the offensive line.
What does any of that mean?
Jones’ processing was impressively strong last season, and I expect that to carry over despite the switch in the coaching staff. The key will be hitting Parker on deep balls. His arm strength was questioned, and Parker is one of the elite deep 50/50 wideouts in the league – Parker finished 18th in the NFL in contested catch rate in 2021.
Interestingly, Tua Tagovailoa has the same issue. All the Dolphins do is run RPO, and his 7.1-yard average depth of target ranked 32nd among 34 quarterbacks with 200 or more attempts. Tagovailoa showed poise with his quick decision-making, but he pretty much only hit short crossing routes and gimmick plays.
I am going to follow Tagovailoa closely this season. Mike McDaniel is one of the best offensive minds in the game, and he should help Tua take another step forward.
But McDaniel’s scheme might limit Tagovailoa’s ceiling. Coming from the Shanahan coaching tree, McDaniel runs the wide-zone scheme on offense, something he bolstered by acquiring speedy running backs, Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert. But as the run game stretches the field horizontally, most of the new open-field Tagovailoa will see is going to be in the middle. He’ll have to hit Waddle and Tyreek Hill in stride and lean on their speed.
23.2% of Tua Tagovailoa’s pass attempts came out of the RPO last season, easily the NFL’s highest mark
Until he takes the next step, RPO will be a massive piece to Miami’s offense
Lean on Tyreek Hill & Jaylen Waddle’s YAC ability, lots of 12 personnel for run-pass uncertainty pic.twitter.com/sR8semgMXD
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) September 4, 2022
It’ll be different, but will he make more downfield throws? Will his aDOT make any significant jump?
I’m expecting the Miami defense to take a large step back. Switching out Brian Flores for McDaniel is an obvious identity shift from offense to defense. The Dolphins have been overperforming their defensive metrics the last two seasons, also, by forcing more turnovers than almost any other NFL team.
Xavien Howard is a legit No. 1 corner. But Byron Jones was supposed to come in and create the most dangerous cornerback duo in football. His yards per target slipped over three yards since he joined Miami, from 6.1 in Dallas to 9.2 in South Beach.
In the meanwhile, the Patriots lost significant talent at all three levels of their defense. The biggest losses were JC Jackson (Chargers) and Malcolm Butler (season-ending injury). The Patriots will be relying on Jalen Mills to be their No. 1 corner, and that’s the first season they haven’t had an elite cornerback in a decade.
Everything points me towards the over. Both defenses should take a step back in the upcoming season, while both offenses have the necessary pieces in place. Look for a successful speedy approach from Miami, a successful running game from New England, and tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki to have success with red zone targets.
The smart money hitting the over makes me feel more confident in this pick, as well.
- The Patriots are 2-8 in their last 10 meetings in Miami
- The home team is 16-5 in the last 21 meetings between New England and Miami
- The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings between New England and Miami
- The over is 4-0 in the Patriots’ last 4 games
- The over is 4-0 in the Patriots’ last 4 Week 1 game
- The over is 4-1 in their last 5 divisional contests
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins below.
Patriots Safeties and Linebackers vs Miami’s Speed
The Patriots lack talent at cornerback. However, they have an abundance of talent at secondary and some still-solid linebacking pieces. Specifically, safeties like Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, and Jabrill Peppers, alongside linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley and Mack Wilson.
The Patriots had no speed in the middle of the field in 2021, and that cost them both games against Buffalo late in the season. So, this group of guys is going to tell us a lot about the Patriots’ ability to play fast on defense in 2022.
Plus, there is no better test than Miami. McDaniel will stretch the field horizontally and the Dolphins have more speed than almost any team in the AFC. The Patriots will either keep up, or it will be a long season.
Additionally, I like the over more considering it’ll be harder for the Patriots’ defense to keep up horizontally in the South Florida heat.
Patriots Running Backs vs Miami Dolphins tacklers
The Dolphins have talent in the front seven. They have a couple of elite pass rushers and led the league in pressure rate last season (34.1%).
They also led the lead in broken tackle rate (11.5%), and that significantly cut into their defensive rush metrics. Miami finished 17th in Rush Success Rate allowed.
The Patriots still have a good offensive line, they love to run the ball, and they have two bruising running backs in Damien Haris and Rhamondre Stevenson. Harris was fifth among running backs last season in DYAR while Stevenson was eighth in average yards after contact (3.09).
If the Dolphins want to have any chance to win this game, they need to effectively tackle those two guys, especially on early downs. They also need to prevent explosive running plays. Otherwise, the Patriots will waltz their way to a ground-and-pound victory.