NFL Week 17 Upset Alert: Dolphins Are a Live Underdog vs. Patriots 

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NFL Pick: Dolphins ML (+135) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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The Miami Dolphins (8-7) are trying to end a four-game losing streak in a game against the New England Patriots (7-8), who are also barely hanging on for their playoff lives. The Dolphins will likely have to win without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is 4-0 against the Patriots in his career. 

Teddy Bridgewater is expected to get the start for Miami this Sunday. The Dolphins are a 3-point road underdog at many of the top-rated sportsbooks. Will the Dolphins challenge conventional NFL odds and end this slide and knock out the Patriots? 

Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots 

Sunday, January 1, 2023 – 01:00 PM EST at Gillette Stadium 

Great Quarterback Play Is Not Why Miami Beats New England  

Not only is Tua Tagovailoa 4-0 against the Patriots, but he is the only quarterback to win four straight starts against Bill Belichick’s Patriots since 2000.  

That would make his absence this week sound crushing, but let’s face the facts. After multiple concussions this season, there is no way he would be ready for this game.

If he did in fact suffer his latest concussion late in the first half when he banged his head on the ground, that may have impaired his decision-making, which led to three interceptions in the fourth quarter that lost the game for Miami. 

Tua's Uneven Season

Even before this game, Tua had his struggles with the 49ers and Chargers. So, it’s not like they were getting him at his best late in the season. 

But the other big part of this is that Miami is largely 4-0 against the Patriots with Tua for non-quarterback reasons. In those four games, Tua only has six total touchdowns (three touchdown passes) and averaged 6.72 yards per pass. Not the stuff of legends. 

The Miami offense scored 22, 17, 20, and 13 points in those games. Do you know how many quarterbacks from Peyton Manning to Patrick Mahomes to Drew Brees and more would kill to win four games against Belichick where the offense averaged 18 points per game? 

Dolphins Just Getting By

Even in Week 1’s 20-7 win over the Patriots, the Miami offense with the addition of Tyreek Hill scored 13 points. There was a big fumble return touchdown in the second quarter after Mac Jones was stripped on a sack. 

It is great that Tua has only turned the ball over twice in four games against New England, but these are not the Patriots of old with incredible defenses that force turnovers in the biggest moments. 

The Dolphins can get by with Bridgewater in this matchup, and he is capable of scoring 16-to-23 points in New England given the talent of Hill and Jaylen Waddle around him. It usually does not take much to beat these Patriots. Mac Jones is 2-14 when the Patriots allow more than 17 points. 

New England’s Offense Is Terrible 

While Josh McDaniels is doing a poor job coaching the Las Vegas Raiders this year, the Patriots really do miss him as their offensive coordinator. He was much better suited for that job than Matt Patricia is. 

The Patriots did a respectable job last year with Jones as a rookie quarterback and McDaniels coordinating the offense again. But this year, the Patriots are squandering the best starting field position in the league with an offense that ranks 28th in yards per drive, 25th in points per drive, 26th on third down, and 32nd in red zone touchdown percentage. 

The Mac Jones Dilemma

This is Week 17 and Mac Jones is still sitting on nine touchdown passes. His ninth was something else on Sunday against the Bengals. Facing a third-and-29, Jones threw a Hail Mary and the ball was deflected volleyball style to Jakobi Meyers, who walked in for a 48-yard touchdown. A total fluke of a play. 

That almost helped the Patriots erase a 22-point deficit to the Bengals, but they came up short again after Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled in the red zone in the final minutes.

It was also in the final minutes of the 2021 opener against Miami where Damien Harris fumbled in the red zone for the Patriots in a 17-16 loss. 

The Game Will be Decided by Defense

That’s why we said it is not that much about the quarterbacks in this matchup. Jones is 0-3 against the Patriots with similar numbers to Tua, who is 4-0. But the Miami defense plays very well against this limited New England offense in the post-Tom Brady era.

The Patriots also saw both tight ends injured last week, though Hunter Henry expects to be fine. But the Patriots are going to have to figure out how to score on the Dolphins if they are going to start beating them again.

Some of Miami’s past success was coach Brian Flores’ experience and familiarity with the Patriots. But when Flores was fired and Mike McDaniel got the Miami job, he retained defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who also spent years in New England learning what the Patriots do. 

Boyer’s defense has not been great in Miami this year, but New England is a bad offense that he knows how to defend well.  

Dolphins vs. Patriots: Pick and Prediction 

The Dolphins are likely not going to have to score many points to win this game. The Patriots are 0-8 this year when allowing at least 20 points and they are 7-0 when allowing no more than 17 points. Pretty cut and dry there. 

Bridgewater threw a bad pick in Cincinnati with the game on the line earlier this year, so he might not be someone you can trust in crunch time.

But what does that say about Jones, who is 1-8 at game-winning drive opportunities in his career? Not every loss has been his fault, but he does not make you think of Tom Brady in those spots.  

Toss Up Favors 'Fins

This feels like a low-scoring game where one or two big turnovers will determine the winner. The Dolphins have better skill players to help their quarterback. They have the experience of repeatedly beating this New England team. They should end this slide and do it again for your NFL picks

For residents of the Sunshine State looking to make a wager on this game, be sure to check out our top Florida betting sites.

NFL Pick: Dolphins ML (+135) at Bovada 

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product