Tua Tagovailoa left a lasting impression on NFL defenders during Week 1. The Miami Dolphins’ quarterback tortured the Los Angeles Chargers’ defense all afternoon during a 36-34 win. Following the New York Jets losing Aaron Rodgers to injury and the unimpressive performance by the Buffalo Bills, Tagovailoa’s outburst has a lot of hype behind Miami to win the AFC East.
The New England Patriots weren’t happy to lose by five points to the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles last week but had to be pleased with their performance. The Patriots’ offense looked much better under offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. If quarterback Mac Jones can be productive, New England’s defense may make the Patriots a threat to make the playoffs again.
This is an intriguing early-season matchup in what promises to be a topsy-turvy division race. With each team demonstrating some early flaws, preventing the Dolphins from improving to 2-0 on the year may be an essential momentum swing for the Patriots.
Despite Patriots Long Stretch of Recent Dominance, Miami Dolphins Lead Series
The Dolphins and Patriots have met 115 times during their long rivalry. Miami leads the all-time series 60-55. Recently, the Dolphins have been putting the hammer down on New England. Miami has won four of the past five meetings.
The Patriots won the most recent meeting between the teams, 23-21, on Jan 1. 2023. Miami will be a 3-point favorite during their meeting at 8:21 p.m. on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Cheetah Comes Up Against Top Predator
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill earned his Cheetah nickname when he built his reputation for his speed while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. In Week 1 against the Chargers, Hill roasted Los Angeles’ secondary by catching 11 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns. New England is confident it has the answer to prevent a repeat performance.
Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones, who is 5-foot-10, has been used to matching up with Hill during some big games, both in the regular season and the playoffs, that the Patriots played with the Chiefs. The two have matched up against each other in six games.
During those matchups, Hill only caught seven passes of 16 targets for 88 yards. Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson have only completed 44 percent of the passes while throwing in Jones’ direction.
Only a few teams have figured out how to slow down Hill during his career. Hill has finished with 1,200 or more receiving yards during the previous four seasons and has caught 609 passes for 8,555 yards during his time in the NFL.
Smith-Schuster Struggling with Patriots
New England wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster hasn’t appeared on the injury report this week. There was some talk that the free agent wide receiver the Patriots brought in had severe knee issues. During his debut with New England, Smith-Schuster wasn’t as impactful as the Patriots would have hoped.
When New England was driving down the field hoping to tie the game late, Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided to play rookies Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte instead of Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster caught four passes for 33 yards in New England’s loss.
Miami Dolphins Needs to Figure Out How to Stop the Run
While the Miami Dolphins were ecstatic to grab a come-from-behind victory over a fellow playoff hopeful to open the season, the Los Angeles Chargers’ running game bullied Miami’s defense. Dolphins’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio took the blame, but he didn’t miss any tackles.
Miami allowed the Chargers to roll up 233 rushing yards and score three touchdowns. That was the worst performance of any NFL team in Week 1. While the Dolphins did a good job against Chargers star quarterback Justin Herbert, Miami’s run defense must adjust quickly.
Jones is Under Fire
New England quarterback Mac Jones took many shots in the media this week. Hill described him as “sorry,” while former Jets and Bills coach Rex Ryan criticized his arm strength by saying he has a “peashooter” for an arm. While Jones didn’t have a perfect game in the season-opener against the Eagles, he did appear more comfortable.
Jones had to bounce back from throwing an interception to Darius Slay in the first half, which was returned for a touchdown. Jones would attempt 54 passes and threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns. He was also able to see the field well and completed passes to eight different receivers.
Armstead Inches Closer to Return
Kendall Lamm played a solid game for the Miami Dolphins on the offensive line last week. Terron Armstead, who played at Appalachian State in college, came into the league initially as an undrafted free agent. How long Lamm will stay in the position is yet to be seen.
Armstead returned to practice on Wednesday but is still on the Dolphins’ injury report with injuries to his back, ankle, and knee. After wearing a non-contact jersey on Wednesday, Armstead could practice with no limitations on Thursday. Armstead has never played in more than 15 games in a season during his 11-year career.
Armstead, who played his first nine seasons with the Saints, is a four-time Pro Bowl selection. He played in 13 games with Miami last season.
New England Defense Wants to Maintain Hype
While the Patriots lost in Week 1, only allowing Philadelphia’s offense to set up 18 of the Eagles’ 25 points wasn’t a bad showing. Coming into the season, people were rallying behind the defense based on their performance last season. The Patriots only allowed 20.4 points and 33 yards per game last season.
New England also produced 30 turnovers, the second-most in the league last season. While The Patriots only forced one turnover last week, New England’s pass rush harassed Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts and was able to sack him three times.