TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots At Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner After a mediocre start, Tom Brady has turned his season around and has led the Patriots to three remarkable come-from-behind victories in the last three games. Brady reads defenses well and spreads the ball around to his receivers. Brady is completing 60.8 percent of his passes and has a 21-9 TD-interception ratio.
Ryan Tannehill has exceeded expectations for the Dolphins in his first two years, but if he is going to establish himself as one of the game’s better quarterbacks he has more work to do. That work includes leading the Dolphins to the playoffs. While they need help, Tannehill will have to perform well in this game against New England’s vulnerable defense.
Offense
Winner The Patriots suffered a major blow in their Week 14 victory over the Cleveland Browns when tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a severe knee injury (torn ACL and MCL). Gronkowski’s strength and power after the catch made him the Pats’ most important player other than Brady. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will have to do more to make up for his absence.
Winner The Dolphins appeared to be a lost cause at midseason when the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito controversy threatened to wreck the offensive line. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have provided a decent punch at the running back position, while wide receiver Brian Hartline can get open and will catch anything he can reach. Speedy Mike Wallace is a dangerous deep threat.
Defense
The Patriots’ defense has been torn apart by injuries and head coach Bill Belichick does not have the depth to make up for the losses of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. Cornerback Aqib Talib is a solid cover man, and he will have to keep Wallace in check. Defensive end Chandler Jones has a team-high 10.5 sacks and has speed coming around the corner.
Winner The Dolphins rank 16th in overall defense and head coach Joe Philbin regularly gets a solid effort from his players on this side of the ball. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler is quite underrated. He leads the team with 92 tackles and has the range to go sideline-to-sideline to make tackles. Defensive ends Olivier Vernon (11.5 sacks) and Cameron Wake (7.5 sacks) are capable of causing problems for Brady.
Special Teams
Winner The Patriots made a huge play on special teams when they recovered placekicker Stephen Gostkowski’s onside kick in the final minute of their comeback victory against the Browns. The Pats are solid in their punt and kickoff coverage, while Gostkowski has made 30-of-32 FG attempts.
The Dolphins have done a decent job of covering kickoffs and punts, but they are not a threat to turn a game around with a big play because return specialist Marcus Thigpen is quite ordinary. Caleb Sturgis is an ordinary placekicker (25-of-33) who does not inspire confidence when the game is on the line.

The Winner Is

(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Winner New England Patriots
3 out of 4

The Dolphins may be catching the Patriots at the right time following the loss of Gronkowski. The Pats have been slow starting and that could cost them against a hungry team playing at home.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants breaks a tackle by Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins in the second half at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 25:   Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against Everson Griffen #97 and Tom Johnson #92 of the Minnesota Vikings in the 1st half during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: New York Giants At Minnesota Vikings

    The Vikings defense has annihilated every opponent so far. Can they do it to the explosive Giants offense this week?

  2. KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 25: Center Mitch Morse #61 of the Kansas City Chiefs prepares to snap the ball to Alex Smith #11 at Arrowhead Stadium during the second quarter of the game against the New York Jets on September 25, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers passes against  Bennie Logan #96 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
    Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: Kansas City Chiefs At Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Chiefs and Steelers battle it out in a match-up of AFC playoff contenders.

  3. ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws against the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Running back Carlos Hyde #28 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 37-18.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: Dallas Cowboys At San Francisco 49ers

    The Cowboys have been rolling with rookie QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. They look to continue that momentum this week.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS San Francisco

Get The New CBS SF Bay Area Local App
Got Our Weather App?
Listen to Radio.com Anywhere, Anytime!

Listen Live