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Patriots-Dolphins: Divisional Opener against Talented Dolphins will Test the Pats

The Patriots lost a tough game against the reigning NFC champions last week, but performed better than expectations especially after the first quarter. Hoping to build off of their second half, the Patriots now turn their attention toward the Dolphins and their highly-touted passing game. Miami enters the game as 3-point favorites on the road after winning in Los Angeles by out-dueling the Chargers last week. The Patriots are attempting not to be the first time this franchise has started 1-0 since 2001.

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The impressive Patriots defense only allowed 19 points to one of the best offenses in the league last year if you don't include the Eagles 1st quarter pick-6 off Mac Jones. Belichick's ability to slow down Jalen Hurts and company was outstanding, holding them to under 4 yards per carry.

Matt Judon, (who was arguably the best player on this squad last year cultivating 15.5 sacks) started early getting his first sack of 2023 while adding 2 more QB hits. First-round pick, corner Christian Gonzalez also made hits presence known, getting 7 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack and a pass deflection. Gonzalez was regarded as the steal of the draft by many at pick 17 and quickly has impressed the coaching staff and fans alike.

Not only did the Patriots outscore the Eagles 21-9 in quarters 2 through 4, but they also dominated the time of possession with 78 offensive plays to the Eagles 61. The Patriots would have almost certainly won this game had it not have been for their terrible start, going down 16-0 in the first quarter in part due to a 70-yard pick-6 from Darius Slay. Even though a loss is a loss is a loss, this game should be taken positively by New England.

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One of the biggest questions for this team coming into the year was Mac Jones ability to lead this team to the playoffs. Jones had a step back in his sophomore season and some fans were even calling for preseason star Malik Cunningham to replace him.

Boy were they wrong. Mac Jones played very well with a 91.4 passer rating, 316 yards 3 touchdowns and the pick-6. In fact Mac Jones was probably the best offensive player on the team Week 1, . It will be very interesting to keep up with his progress this year.

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Moving on to the Dolphins this week; Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill combined for the best passer-receiver combo in Week 1. The two connected for 215 yards and 2 TDs on 11 catches, with Tagovailoa getting 466 yards and 3 TDs and being sacked 0 times. The Dolphins still ended up in a shootout with the Chargers, barely edging out a 36-34 victory in a game that never saw a bigger lead than 4 points.

The difference in pace between the two division rivals is huge. The Dolphins had 536 yards on 8.2 yards per play and the Patriots had 382 yards on 4.9 yards per play. The biggest difference between the two squads is their defenses. The Eagles beat the Vikings last night with 259 rushing yards on 5.4 yards per rush and 3 rushing TDs, but against the Patriots D last week, ran for 97 yards and 0 TDs on 3.9 yards per rush.

This game will truly be a battle of titans, pitting Tua and Tyreek against Belichick and Judon. With Mac Jones seeming to be taking the extra step all of New England was hoping for, could the Patriots earn their first divisional win this season? Or will the Dolphins continue to have the Patriots number since Tom Brady's departure.

Kickoff is Sunday September 17th at 8:20 EST.

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Make sure to stay tuned as we continue coverage of the Patriots and the NFL 2023-24 season all year and make sure to check back here Monday for Patriots Review.


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