Another day, another dollar. Another week, another opponent left laying broken on the battlefield.
This week it was the baffled Buffalo Bills who couldn't figure out a way to stop Brady, Gronk, and Lewis. Brady led the charge with 258 yards through the air, connecting with Rob Gronkowski for 147. Dion Lewis balanced out the unstoppable attack, marching on the Bills for just under 100 yards rushing.
The hero-of-the-day award for the Pats eighth-straight win goes to Rex Burkhead, who added 78 rushing yards to the mix and two touchdowns. Honorable mention goes to the team on the other side of the ball who held the Buffalo Bills to just a field goal!
On to the Dolphins
The main question on my mind focuses on Belichick. Will he take his foot off the gas in the coming weeks? At 10-2 , the Pats have secured a playoff berth and look like the #1 seed. It all depends on how it shakes out with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the next couple of weeks. Coming up the Patriots have the Dolphins
, The Steelers, the Buffalo Bills, then the NY Jets. If mathematics have the Pats locked for the #1 seed, in the next two weeks, will Mr. Belichick start resting key players guys? Or will he want to bash heads and close strong at the regular season finish line?
Knowing that we are not out of the proverbial woods just yet, the foot won't come off the pedal next week when the Miami Dolphins visit Foxboro. I am confident that the Pats will come in as 10-point to two-touchdown favorites. But at the time of this writing, (Sunday evening) odds on next week's Monday Night Football match up with the Fins haven't been published. That said, we should check the top betting sites to see where the lines fall, as it's always a good indicator
of the potential outcome.
Stats Don't Lie
Assuming that Cutler and company are road-dogs, recent trends do not bode well for Miami. Since 2016, the Dolphins only win 38% of games when underdogs away from home. Conversely, the Pats are 11-4 (73.3%) as home favorites. And even worse news for the Fins, the Patriots stand 24-7 (77.4%) against the spread in that same stretch.
Division play for the Miami Dolphins remains middling at best. Sitting at 5-4 since 2016, they have won only 55% of their matchups against division rivals. The Pats, on the other hand, have an 8-1 record. This puts them at 88.9% against division opponents. Prior to this Sunday's win, the Pats took over the predictive power rating boards at #1
(and I doubt that will change) and also lead the league in probability to win the Super Bowl at 27.7%.
So, who rounds out the top five? The Philadelphia Eagles, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New Orleans Saints, and the Minnesota Vikings, respectively. Where are the Dolphins on this list, you might ask? Nowhere in sight. Ok. They are somewhere. Way back at 28th, with a measly .8% chance of making the playoffs and a 0.0% chance of taking home those coveted rings.
Lest I knock on wood, I should say: The Patriots have been surprised (we all were) a couple of times this season. So, they can't go to sleep on the Miami Dolphins. Now that I have acknowledged the 'ego gods' and gotten that out of the way, I can go back to say that I predict much more of the same next week. A ninth-straight win in pummeling, double-digit fashion and one step closer to a #1 seed playoff berth.