The Patriots have dominated the NFL for the better part of the last two decades but one venue where that hasn't been the case is Miami. Whether going against solid Dolphins teams that have been in playoff contention or ones that have long since been eliminated, the Patriots never seem to play their best in the sweltering heat of South Florida.
They will get another chance to do so on Sunday, and there will be another potential element to deal with as former linebackers coach Brian Flores will be in his second game as Miami's boss. At times over the years these situations haven't worked out well for New England.
Back in 2006, the Jets topped the Patriots in Foxborough when Eric Mangini managed to beat his former boss in his first game against him. Josh McDaniels did so as well in 2009 when he was coaching the Broncos. Last season, Matt Patricia enjoyed victory in Week 3 when his Lions topped New England in his first season in Detroit.
So, despite a Vegas spread that has the Patriots favored by nearly three touchdowns, the combination of Flores and Miami has some Patriots fans a bit concerned. This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is: Do you feel Brian Flores' familiarity with the Patriots will have an impact on the game?
Patriots.com's Erik Scalavino says …
Of course the Dolphins coaching staff, heavy on Patriots alumni, will have an impact on this game. It's like playing your older brother. Sure, he might be bigger and stronger, with more experience, but there's nobody you'd rather beat. As a result, you play harder against him than anyone else.
That'll come into play here. No one knows how to attack this Patriots defense better than Chad O'Shea, Miami's offensive coordinator, who faced it in practice for years as New England's wide receivers coach. Conversely, Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham spent years in Foxborough as an assistant, as did several other Dolphins coaches. Their pride was severely damaged last week when Baltimore throttled them in South Florida, so, they'll be out to prove they can compete with the best when their former New England colleagues come to town.
The biggest impact might come from head coach Brian Flores, who was well-liked during his long tenure in Foxborough. At the very least, even if the Patriots are dominating this game, they won't embarrass B-Flo the way the Ravens did last week.
Patriots.com's Paul Perillo says …
While some of the former Patriots coaches have pulled off upsets in the past, they came with teams that were far more talented than this Miami club. Even the Lions last year had much more than the current Dolphins can boast, and it looks like morale could already be at an all-time low as well.
Flores is a solid coach and he and GM Chris Grier have a plan to deconstruct the roster and rebuild. But in the meantime, no amount of past experience is going to allow this group to match up with the Patriots on Sunday. I expect the Dolphins to put forth more effort than they did in the opener, but it still comes down to talent and as long as the Patriots are focused, this game shouldn't be close.
I respect the Miami curse (after last year how could anyone completely dismiss it?) but the Dolphins don't seem capable becoming the sixth team in seven years to post a home win over New England. Flores' familiarity won't impact this game.