Free NFL Pick: Miami at New England 01-02-2011

January 2, 2011

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Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Sunday January 2nd, 2011 1:00 PM EST

Line: New England -6

Overview:

Life can be cold for the away team in Foxboro. Not only are the conditions frosty, the Patriots have yet to surrender a home victory this season. The Patriots are a perfect 7-0 thus far this season. They have won by more than the given spread four times this season in Foxboro. The Patriots haven’t lost since Week 9. For a team that looked like they may be rebuilding at the beginning of the season, 13-2 ain’t bad.

The Dolphins are, for a lack of a better word, weird. They have won seven games this season. The odd part is that they are a nearly unblemished 6-1 on the road. For whatever reason, the Dolphins love to play on the road. They are tied for the league’s best road record and are a force when they invade enemy territory. They face their biggest test of the season this week. Tony Sporano might not be on the hot seat, but he is certainly hearing the murmurs.

Keys to the Game:

  • How long will Tom Terrific stay on the football field? Bill Belichick likes to leave his team on the field, even when they have nothing to gain. He has left Tom Brady in the game when the Patriots are blowing teams out by five scores. Brady says he is going to play and there is no reason we should think otherwise. He is playing the best football of his life and has been mistake free longer than any quarterback in the history of the NFL. If he stays in the game, it could prove to be the difference in whether or not the Patriots cover.
  • Cameron Wake is trying to make his case for defensive MVP. If the Patriots want to leave Tom Brady in, he is going to be exposed to Wake coming off the edge. Wake’s 14 sacks this season are good enough to give him the sack title to this point. What better way to cap off the season than dropping Brady? Wake may also be a deterrent for Belichick allowing Brady to rack up unnecessary time. He would look foolish if Wake blindsided Brady in a meaningless game right before playoffs hit.

Key Matchup:

Brandon Marshall Vs. Devin McCourty

  • Brandon Marshall has had back to back weeks of 100 yards. He has criticized Chad Henne and his offensive coordinator in recent weeks, but has dominated on the football field recently. With quarterback questions surrounding the Dolphins, Marshall failed to make the Pro Bowl this season. We have seen him go silent in several games this season, and unless he has a big game, there is no way the Dolphins are going to be able to contend. The Patriots are impossible to stop, so unless Marshall can help the Dolphins keep up, this game could get out of hand.
  • Devin McCourty had a Pro Bowl rookie season. He is second in the NFL in picks this year. Sunday will be a good measuring stick for McCourty. The Dolphins are going to force feed Marshall even if he is covered, so McCourty will be able to see how he matches up against one of the best receivers in all of football. He did well against Greg Jennings a few weeks ago and will look to shut down Marshall to put an exclamation point on his rookie campaign.

Wrap Up:

The Patriots are probably going to be the favorite to win the Super Bowl once the playoff picture plays out. The Dolphins are good on the road, but they are a flawed football team. The Patriots victimize teams on a regular basis and with the Dolphins losing to Buffalo and Detroit in back to back weeks, it is evident there is no life left in this football team.

Free NFL Pick: New England +4


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