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Game Preview: Dolphins at Patriots, 12/24/11
By on December 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Week 16

The Dolphins (5-9) play their final road game of the season on Christmas Eve against the 11-3 New England Patriots, who can clinch a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs with a win.

This game will be the 93rd between the two teams–a divisional series that dates all the way back to the Dolphins’ first season in 1966. Miami has won 50 of the previous 92, though New England has won 13 of the 19 games between the teams with Tom Brady under center. That said, there have been some great Dolphins’ moments over the years against the Patriots, which was the subject of this week’s LIST.

While last week’s game against the Bills was the back-end of the season series just four weeks removed from the first match-up, these two teams have not seen each other since Week 1, when the Fins and Pats had an historic night at Sun Life Stadium. When the dust settled, New England had a 38-24 win in a game that featured an NFL record 906 yards net passing (combined). Additionally, Brady set a franchise record with 517 passing yards, 99 of which came on a record-tying TD pass to Wes Welker.

It was not a night for the defenses but since then, a lot has changed–for the Dolphins. The Patriots’ “D” is still rated dead last in the NFL and they are currently the only team allowing over 400 yards per game on average. The Fins, though, are now 15th in total defense, third in rush defense, and fifth in points allowed. Changes for the better, certainly.

How the improved play on defense will translate on Saturday at Gillette Stadium is, of course, a mystery, but the Dolphins have to be feeling better about themselves than they were in September. So what are the keys to victory in this one? Our John Congemi lets you know what he thinks with his weekly Keys to the Game.

What do you think is the #1 key to victory vs. New England?

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Despite their trouble stopping opposing offenses, the Patriots have been plenty successful this year. For more on their perspective, you can go behind enemy lines to hear from head coach Bill Belichick and TE Rob Gronkowski.

While the Fins have done a nice job staying healthy this season, they’ll be without one key contributor on offense this week. TE Anthony Fasano suffered a mild concussion and is out for the game. For the rest of the medical news surrounding this game, check out the official injury reports for both teams.

Meanwhile, with the game being on Saturday and not Sunday, there are plenty of questions about how to watch and listen. Lucky for you, you can find all of the relevant information on coverage of this game (on TV, radio and online) in the weekly coverage schedule.

Finally, we hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season as we leave you with a video preview of the game with former Dolphin Troy Stradford:



Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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Robert says:

We are in a perfect situation to get this win. After the past 5 weeks of reggie running the ball, 200 yards last week,The pats have to gear up to stop it. Thats the first half defence we will see. PASS THE BALL ON THE WORST RANKED SECONDARY IN THE LEAGUE!!!! They will then have to pull the defence out of the box in the second half, and We can run Reggie and Danial (whom bill B. has not faced) and win this thing! If coach bowles and dabol try to run this thing in the first half, The dolphins wont score enough, and we will be playing into the same old same old game. Bowles has nothing to lose? I say come out balls to the wall and let Matt Moore play! Let Brandon make a statement! Let Gates use that speed on more that one attemp per game. (he might catch it!) If we can jump out and go into the second half with a 2 score or more lead, Our defence who wants revenge will win this game!