After solid week one showings for both squads, the Miami Dolphins will visit the division rival New England Patriots for a Sunday Night Football matchup (9/17/23). Get Dolphins vs. Patriots odds, picks, and predictions below as our best bet is Dolphins -3.
Dolphins vs Patriots Prediction & Best Bet
After an offseason full of speculation and widely varying expectations, the results in week one were mixed for the Miami Dolphins. The secondary, viewed by some as the league’s best, did not have an outstanding day, although it’s quite hard to do so against Justin Herbert and the Chargers.
Conversely, the offense led by Tua Tagovailoa looked incredible once more, reminding us of the unit’s dominant start last season before Tagovailoa’s head injury troubles. No offense scored more points in week 1 than the 36 generated by Miami, as the Cowboys’ 40 points were fueled in part by two defensive touchdowns, and the Packers picked up one en route to a 38-point outcome. After fearing for Tagovailoa’s future last season, it’s truly inspiring to watch him come back to once again be one of the best passers in the NFL.
The Patriots didn’t win, but they made a strong impression noneheless. After going down 16-0 to the defending NFC Champion Eagles via some fluky turnovers, New England stormed back to make it 25-20, and had a chance to win late in the fourth quarter. Bill O’Brien’s offense looked like a completely different unit compared to the impossibly poor 2022 unit led by Matt Patricia, and Mac Jones looked to be back to or beyond his 2021 form.
Bill Belichick’s defense also looked improved, featuring nice debuts for early draft picks Christian Gonzalez at cornerback and edge rusher Keion White. The safety group looks strong as Jabrill Peppers and Myles Bryant got off to great starts, and the defensive front should be a force going forward, anchored by outstanding lineman Christian Barmore amidst a wide stable of edge rushers headlined by Matthew Judon and Josh Uche. They’ll be tasked with getting after Tagovailoa, whose pocket was incredibly clean in week one, and has yet to lose to the Patriots in four meetings.
I believe they’ll have to wait at least until their visit to Miami in late October to beat Tua, as the Dolphins are firing on all cylinders with no signs of slowing down. The offensive line was much stronger than expected in week one, against some star talent on the Chargers side, and their performance will be an enormous key for the Dolphins in this game and beyond.
The New England defense looked sharp, but unless the pass rush seriously hurries Tagovailoa, the secondary may not be up to the task of limiting Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The Patriots offense also came out strong, and I’m leaning towards the over as well, but with possible stormy weather in Foxborough this Sunday, I’m sitting it out until gameday.
Dolphins vs Patriots Prediction & Best Bet: Dolphins -3
Dolphins vs Patriots Betting Odds
Vegas picked some tough lines for this one, with Miami as 3 point favorites, and the total at 46.5; both sides of both wagers are set at -110 odds.
Dolphins vs Patriots Key Injuries
Key linemen Mike Onwenu and Cole Strange are still questionable for the Patriots, while the Dolphins will be without cornerback Jalen Ramsey and likely tackle Terron Armstead.
Dolphins vs Patriots Key Matchups
As is the case with so many games, this one will be won and lost at the line and scrimmage, let’s take a look at how these teams’ units stack up with one another.
Dolphins Offensive Line vs. Patriots Pass Rush
One of the biggest questions for any unit heading into the 2023 NFL season was whether the Dolphins line could keep Tua upright after a year where they were a bottom-five pass blocking unit. They looked great on opening day; even without tackle Terron Armstead, Tua was hit once, and wasn’t sacked. Isaiah Wynn looked resurgent after a down-year with none other than the Patriots, and Austin Jackson had a shockingly good day against Joey Bosa. If this unit has another positive outing in New England, it’ll be time to start thinking about Miami as a serious contender.
The Patriots’ three sacks of Jalen Hurts came from two very unsurprising sources, and one less-predictable one. Two came from edge rushers Matthew Judon and Josh Uche, both of whom are absolute centerpieces of this defense. The third came from rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez, who showed his versatility in a solid debut. D-tackle Christian Barmore is a bit more of a run stopper, but registered four hurries from the interior, the same number as debutant d-end Keion White.
Patriots Offensive Line vs. Dolphins Defensive Front
This one is a similar but slightly less-specific matchup, as the Patriots need to prioritize establishing a ground game and controlling the football far more than the Dolphins do, as well as protecting Mac Jones. PFF was very high on the week one performances from veterans Trent Brown at tackle and David Andrews at center, but was considerably less bullish when it came to guard duo Antonio Mafi and Sidy Sow, as well as right tackle Calvin Anderson. This unit needs Mike Onwenu back very badly, but that’s not likely to happen in time for the Miami game.
The Dolphins have a pretty talented front seven, but nobody had a banner day against the Chargers. The team really struggled to limit the Chargers’ running game, as the Bolts picked up 233 rushing yards. Jaelan Phillips registered a sack, but only one other hit on a relatively quiet day after a phenomenal 2022. D-lineman Christian Wilkins was slowed down a bit by the Chargers, who put in the fourth-best pass blocking performance of the week per PFF. Still, the Dolphins registered three sacks, so let’s see what they do against a line that was 24th-best in the same rankings and gave up two sacks against a mediocre Eagles performance.