The Patriots take on the Dolphins for a game that may decide a playoff birth. Tommy Burch previews the game and gives the rundown on both teams and their shot at the playoffs.
Patriots Week 17 Preview – Playoffs On The Line
The Patriots play in an incredibly important game against the Dolphins on Sunday, and it is a must-watch. With both teams only a game apart and injuries possibly changing the match’s outcome, it is imperative to each team’s success that they come out on top.
Miami Dolphins – Will Injuries Prevent Victory?
The Dolphins have shown the NFL that they are an elite offensive powerhouse, scoring on opposing teams at will. This is represented in their offensive standings, ranking 5th in offensive yards per game and 2nd in total passing yards and passing yards per game. They also rank 9th in total points and points per game, proving them to be an overall top 5 offense in the league.
This offensive production centers around stud receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, with Hill having 1600 yards and 7 touchdowns to Waddle’s 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns. These stats are due in part to breakout star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has 3500 passing yards and 25 touchdowns.
However, Tagovailoa is now on concussion protocol and will be missing this Sunday’s game. This is brutal for the Dolphins, as he was a catalyst for the team’s 8-7 season. Backup Teddy Bridgewater looks to be the starter for the game on Sunday, which does not bode very well for Miami. Terron Armstead and Xavien Howard did not practice this Friday, which may prove futile for the team’s chance of winning.
However, Teddy Bridgewater is a serviceable backup quarterback with multiple seasons of starting experience. The game will still be incredibly competitive, and New England cannot get comfortable.
New England Patriots – Must Win Game
As of right now, the Pats have a 22% chance of making the playoffs. In order to do so, winning both of the next two AFC East matchups is crucial. If they defeat Miami, their chances boost to 38%, but a loss makes it impossible.
They will need to rely on their defense to perform against Bridgewater because their offense has not helped them much this season. New England ranks 24th in total yards and yards per game, with every team from 25-32 missing the playoffs except for the under .500 Titans.
What makes matters worse is the fact that the team is pretty banged up. The team had 4 players not practicing on Friday, with each being an impact player. The list consists of cornerback Jack Jones, special teams stud Marcus Jones, wide receiver DeVante Parker, and productive tight end Jonnu Smith. They have all been ruled out for the game on Sunday, a disappointing state of affairs.
However, the home-field advantage and opponent quarterback situation will help the team tremendously. Both teams are fighting and clawing for a playoff birth, and Miami has the advantage by only a single game. A Patriots win would even the playing field and tie the series 1-1. If that happens and the Pats beat the Bills (which is very possible if they rest their starters), then New England is in the Wild Card.