Monday night is upon us, and is giving us a battle of AFC East opponents in Week 14. One of them seems to have the inside track to the Super Bowl, while the other looks like they should be in the toilet bowl. The New England Patriots hope to keep pace with the Steelers, as they put their record of 10-2 on the line. The Steelers did their job by beating the Ravens last night, as narrow as it was. With the win, the Steelers clinched the AFC North.
Now it’s time for the Pats to do their job. Both teams are vying for the number 1 overall seed in the AFC. It’s entirely possible that the Steelers and Patriots meet in the playoffs, so it’s an important deal to have the home field advantage. They will meet next week, with the possibility of both at 11-2. A win tonight for the Patriots will move them to 11-2.
The Steelers may have won last night, but there were obviously flaws to find. Notably, they lost their best player on defense last week against the Bengals and it showed. The Ravens operated on the ground with relative ease, taking advantage of a defense without Ryan Shazier. They must figure something out, but replacing a guy like Shazier doesn’t come easy. There isn’t another linebacker on their roster with nearly the same amount of talent. Soon as he went down last week, the Bengals exploited his absence. The Ravens watched the tape and did the same thing.
Bill Belichick and his Pats are masters of deciphering ways to exploit weaknesses in opposing defenses. Steelers’ fans really have to be concerned with that going forward. The Patriots will be without Rob Gronkowski tonight. If you watch football even loosely, you are aware what happened in Buffalo.
After an incomplete pass, where it looked like he was getting interfered with pretty good, took a shot at Tre White who was laying on the ground. Gronkowski just snapped out of frustration and it landed him a one-game suspension. Out of any week, it’s not the worst case scenario to miss the Dolphins game. We’ll see if the Dolphins can surprise on Monday Night Football. Head below for our free Patriots vs. Dolphins pick.
New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins Betting Odds:
vs. Dolphins +12(-115)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Patriots vs. Dolphins Pick:
The suspension to Gronkowski may do more good than bad for the Pats. Not in this game, but they will have a healthy and fresh Gronk for their meeting with the Steelers in a week. The Patriots should be able to win here despite not having him in the lineup. They are laying 12 points on the road, so they shouldn’t have issues winning the game. There were no issues last week against the Bills, as they pasted their competition by a score of 23-3. Tyrod Taylor couldn’t get anything done, and the Pats’ offense came through late to pull away.
Jay Cutler will step up and take a shot at the Patriots. Cutler and the Dolphins are coming off a confidence booster of a win over the Broncos, 35-9. No, beating the Broncos these days isn’t impressive. However, scoring 35 points on their defense is awfully impressive. The Broncos’ offense may be garbage, but their defense can still get the job done. Cutler passed for 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions with 235 yards. He hooked up with Kenny Stills for 98 yards and a touchdown.
The Dolphins’ offense has been stagnant this season with only 17.4 points per game on the season. It was perfect timing, as the Dolphins saved their best performance for a good defense against the Broncos, before playing the Patriots. Kenyan Drake had the best performance of his career, rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown on the Broncos.
The one thing that might give the Dolphins a prayer at winning this game is the fact that New England has the Steelers next week. It wasn’t so much a look ahead spot for Pittsburgh, they weren’t going to take their rival, the Ravens, lightly on Sunday Night Football. I don’t see the Pats putting the foot on the gas pedal and going bonkers on Monday night. The Dolphins are also healthy and will be playing their third game at home in their last four. The Pats should coast to a win, but I think they play conservatively enough to just get out of Miami with a victory, and get ready for the Steelers next week with a healthy squad and Gronkowski. The Dolphins should be a little more motivated than the Pats in this spot as well. Believe it or not, they are still alive in the wildcard race. I’d take the 12 points with the Dolphins at home.
PICK: DOLPHINS +12 (-115)