Numbers like this haven't been seen since before the Belichick/Brady era. There have only been two seasons since Tom Brady took over the starting role from Drew Bledsoe that a team other than New England won the AFC East division crown. One of those would be the year that Brady was knocked—out in the very first game with a knee injury. 2008- a year that will go down in Patriot infamy. And it was the Miami Dolphins who stole the honor that year due to the tie—breaker over the Patriots.
Neither Bill Belichick, nor Brady, wish to see that happen again. While that reality may not be in the forefront of their minds, the idea that any other team win the division is most assuredly anathema to both of them. Last week's loss to the rival Jets has put the fear in the entire team for sure. The Dolphins face a resilient and resolved rival as they visit Gillette Stadium.
Here are your BOLD PREDICTIONS:
1. Josh McDaniels realizes his mistake in holding back the running game.
New England virtually abandoned the run game against the Jets in the second half, rushing for a paltry 18 yards. This week, the backfield will put the pedal to the metal, Stevan Ridley leading all rushers with 125 yards on the ground, as well as, 40 yards in the air, while more than doubling last week's total yardage on the ground. Also much improved: third down conversion rate jumps from 8% to 60%.
2. Tom Brady finds his accuracy again.
Nobody is less satisfied with the performance of the passing offense than Brady himself. 2007 seems like a distant memory compared to the first seven games of the 2013 debacle. It's obviously more than just some rookie receivers thrown into the mix. Rob Gronkowski was back in the flow, but even Brady's favorite target only yielded a below—50% completion rate.
Week eight against Miami will see Brady reawaken and find the 60+% passing ratio for which he became famous. Gronkowski will still be his favorite target, catching 10 balls for 170 yards. With his success, the rest of the crew, including Brady, will step their games up as well.
3. New England's "plug and play" defense will make life miserable for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphin offense.
The return of Andre Carter adds a veteran boost that will inspire the fiercest rush to date, while striking down the running game of Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. Without the run support, Tannehill will be forced to go to the air more often, playing into the hands of this New England defense. Tannehill will get sacked often, while throwing four interceptions.
Everything goes the way of the New England Patriots en route to a 38-13 thrashing.