Patriots and Dolphins Face Off in AFC East Showdown

An AFC East showdown takes center stage tonight in South Beach as the Miami Dolphins host the New England Patriots. The Pats are coming off a high scoring home win versus Buffalo while the Dolphins are coming off a tough loss to the Jets.

The Patriots defense has been less than stellar, especially against the pass, as they are ranked 25th in the league in pass defense.  They are giving up 27.3 points per game and their secondary has done little in the past two weeks to garner any confidence.  They are allowing over 260 yards per game in the air and gave up 30 points last week to the modest Bills offense.

Miami quarterback Chad Henne is coming off a monster game against the Jets where he threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns.  A new found connection with received Brandon Marshall was displayed as Marshall collected 10 passes for 166 yards.

Another outburst from Marshall is likely against a young Patriots secondary.  While the Miami offense hasn’t put up staggering point totals in any of their first three games, tonight may be their night.

The high-octane Pats offense will need to put up high numbers to compete with the Dolphins who historically play well against New England at home.  The Patriots will be without starting running back Fred Taylor and will look to BenJarvis Green-Ellis to carry the majority of the load in the ground game.

Players to watch

Look for the rookie Patriots tight-end duo to put up big numbers.  Aaron Hernandez has been a favorite target for Tom Brady while Rob Gronkowski has been a primary red zone target.

Also look for a big game from Wes Welker who has been relatively quiet the past couple weeks.  If Miami’s focus is on stopping Randy Moss, look for Welker to step up big.

With the Patriots focusing most of the week on improving the pass defense, look for Ronnie Brown to exploit weaknesses in the run defense.  Davone Bess may also prove to be a key target for Henne if Marshall is doubled.  Bess had a huge game against the Pats last year as he caught 10 balls for 117 yards and a touchdown.

This match up has all the makings of a high scoring shootout.  In order for the Patriots to remain in the game they must be able to put the ball in the end zone early.

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