Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are an astonishing 59-11 in the month of December. After a businesslike victory over the Minnesota Vikings to open the month, the Patriots will be looking to dispatch the Miami Dolphins on the road to keep the strong December going.
Tom Brady hasn’t been his typical MVP self this season. In fact, by the numbers, he’s been fairly pedestrian, ranking just ninth in passing yards, 14th in touchdown passes, and 16th in passer rating. Yet, the New England Patriots sit comfortably at 9-3 with a tenth consecutive AFC East Championship all but clinched, and a first-round playoff bye in their sights. Death, taxes, and the Patriots clinching a bye week, as the saying goes.
The Patriots will not simply be able to coast through the month of December however, as the 6-6 Dolphins await them in Miami. These are three bold predictions for the weekend’s AFC East clash.
Tom Brady will have 400 passing yards
Brady has failed to crack the 400-yard passing mark in any game this season. In fact, he hasn’t even been able to reach 350. That will change this weekend, as the Patriot offense is finally operating at the peak of its powers for the 2018 campaign.
Early in the season, the Patriots were plagued by injury and suspension. Julian Edelman served a four-game suspension to start the year for violating the NFL’s drug policy, while weapons like Rob Gronkowski and Rex Burkhead have battled injury throughout the season.
Week 14 is a different story, as the Patriots will field a fully healthy offense and a motivated Gronkowski. New England will also be looking to avenge last seasons December disappointment in Miami, where Brady threw for just 233 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions in a 27-20 loss.
Look for Brady to attack the Dolphins early and often, especially with a healthy Gronkowski to target. The Dolphins secondary ranks just 21st in the NFL, the worst pass defense the Patriots will have seen all season besides the Kansas City Chiefs. In that game, Brady was able to rack up 341 yards. Look for him to break 400 on Sunday.
Gronk will go for 150 yards and a touchdown
Brady isn’t the only typically ethereal Patriot in the midst of a rather mortal season. Much has been said about Gronkowski’s numbers this season. They’ve said he’s too old, too injury prone, too beaten and battered, and simply not explosive enough to be the receiving threat he usually is. He will silence all of that this weekend.
Gronk loves playing the Dolphins. in 12 games against Miami, Gronk averages 61 yards per contest and has caught a total of eight touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are in a three-way tie with Carolina and Cincinnati allowing the second most touchdowns by tight ends this season.
If Brady is going to have a big day, it is going to start and end with his favorite weapon. Gronk hasn’t been able to find a rhythm and dominating defenses vertically the way he usually does, but he showed a flash of his old self with a 30-yard touchdown two weekends ago against the Jets.
— Patriots Brasil (@patriotsbrasil) November 25, 2018
Gronk will be looking to dominate Sunday against the Dolphins.
The Patriots defense will not allow a touchdown
The Patriots defense found one of their few statement games of the season a week ago against the Vikings on Sunday night. They managed to hold receiving threats Stephon Diggs and Adam Thielen both under 100 yards. This week, they’ll take that one step further and pitch a shutout on the road in Miami.
The Dolphins offense has struggled to find a groove all season, and while the same can be said about the Patriots defense, they have finally found themselves in the top 10 scoring defenses in the NFL. Much of their success can be attributed to cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who should be a lock for the Pro-Bowl this season.
New England’s secondary has also found a steady hand in the presence of Jason McCourty. Early in the season, it appeared new arrival J-Mac was struggling to adapt to the Patriots defensive schemes, but over the past few weeks he has been a monster for the New England passing defense.
New England has been decent against the rush this season, ranking 13th in the NFL in rush defense; while they’ve struggled against the pass. Fortunately, they’ll be getting a breather against Miami’s 29th ranked passing offense.
The Patriots should have a relatively easy day on the defensive side of the ball, but they will turn it into a statement by putting a wall in front of Miami’s end zone.
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