The Patriots broke their three-game losing streak last week, defeating the Buffalo Bills and getting a badly needed win that improved their season record to 2-5. Next up, the Patriots travel to Miami to face the Dolphins for a second time this season, having dropped the Week 2 matchup 24-17. Miami's offense has been near unstoppable at times this season, however the Dolphins have seen injuries strike and are coming off a disappointing Sunday Night Football loss to the Eagles.
What do the Pats have to do to stack another win and improve their division record to 3-1? Here's what the PU crew thinks!
What is one element from the win over the Bills that you believe the Patriots must carry over to Miami this week?
Pressure on the QB. Just like last week, the end result doesn't have to be a sack. As long as Tua's timing is disrupted and he doesn't get by the pressure, the Patriots will have a shot at keeping the score down. -Fred Kirsch
The offensive efficiency. Short, quick passing game on early downs keeps the Patriots out of long-yardage situations and that allows the offense to have success. -Paul Perillo
The element I believe that the Patriots must carry over from the win against the Bills is feeding Pop the rock. When Demario Douglas gets the ball, great things happen for the Patriots offense. Bill O'Brien drew up a great gameplan that used a lot more pre snap motion that led to Douglas being able to make plays for New England and they have to keep that going against Miami. -Tamara Brown
The offensive line made a lot of progress, allowing an establishment of the running game, and thus, opportunities for Mac to throw the ball well. Let's keep it going. -Alexandra Francisco
The play of the offensive line. Last week was by far their best performance, holding Buffalo to a 21.7% pressure rate due to the changes up front. I'm expecting to see the same configuration this week, with Mike Onwenu at right tackle and rookie Sidy Sow at right guard. If they can give Mac time and run the ball, they can score on this Miami defense. -Evan Lazar
I just liked the fast start, getting a quick 10-0 lead totally changed the complexion of the game from what we've been used to seeing over the past two years. This week I think it's even more important, as Miami has opened up significant leads in each of their last three wins over the Pats. -Mike Dussault
Tua is 5-0 against the Patriots but might be without Tyreek Hill this week. How might Hill's absence affect the Patriots defensive gameplan?
If Hill is in the game, there is a focus on minimizing his yards after catch as well as not letting him get behind coverage. But that's just a plan for one player, not a gameplan. If he's out, the overall defensive gameplan doesn't change. -FK
Losing Hill would be huge for the Dolphins because he occupies so much of the defense's attention. The Patriots have really focused on limiting him in past games and that has allowed opportunities for others. It limits Miami's options for sure. -PP
If Tyreek Hill is unavailable against the Patriots this week, that would put a lot of emphasis on New England's defense being able to stop the run. Raheem Mostert had a great game against the Patriots the first time around and after coming off a poor performance against the Eagles where they were held to 12 carries for 45 yards, they might be looking to get their run game back on track. -TB
It would be a really lucky break for the Pats if Hill can't play, but Waddle certainly can't be overlooked either. Fortunately, Jonathan Jones seems poised to play, unlike Week 2, and the addition of JC Jackson might help them overcome the loss of Gonzo's lockdown coverage. -AF
Well, Hill says he's playing. But I wouldn't have changed the game plan much anyway. I have too much respect for Tua and McDaniel, who would've figured out ways to get the skill players available opportunities to succeed. With Hill, I'd like to see Jonathan Jones in inside trail technique with safety help over the top. This is a good test for the Pats sans D-Mac to provide adequate safety help. Maybe we'll see more Jalen Mills at free safety. -EL
It sounds now like Hill will be okay to play but perhaps limited and the Pats should take whatever they can get when it comes to the most dynamic player in the league. I think disruption will key no matter what. The Pats must disrupt the offense's timing by jamming receivers, disguising their front seven intentions presnap then flooding the middle of the field with unexpected coverage players. -MD
What stands out to you from the Week 2 loss by the Patriots and what lessons do you think the Patriots can take from that first matchup?
Miami got their yards but only 24 points. Tua had a good day (21 of 30, 249 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) but he didn't have his way with the defense. For the Patriots, it was another in what would be a series of slow starts for the offense, not getting into the end zone until the fourth quarter. Clean things up, get the offensive juices flowing early, and New England can hang with Miami. By the way, the Dolphins went on to score 70 points the next week. -FK
The biggest problem in that game in my view was the offensive line. The Patriots should have the same group available as last week and that should allow the pass protection to improve for Mac Jones. -PP
When the Patriots fell to the Dolphins in Week 2, turnovers and lack of offensive efficiency stood out from that first matchup. Of Miami's five wins this season, the 24 points they scored against New England was the lowest point total out of all of their victories. If the Patriots can hold them to just 24 points and be as efficient on offense as they were against the Bills, they have a chance to upset another AFC East team. -TB
If you limit turnovers and mental mistakes, you can hang with Miami. But they must score more than three points in the first half so they aren't playing catch-up like they were the last time. -AF
Tua's average time to throw being 2.08 seconds. You can't let Tua play in rhythm by throwing quickly against soft zone coverage. That's his sweet spot, and they have too many talented skill players who can pick up yards after the catch. Disrupt the timing! It all starts with being physical against their receivers, giving the pass rush time to get home. -EL
Quite a few things. Don't fall into a two-score deficit in the first half. Don't hurt yourselves with bad turnovers. Finally, if you have the chance to comeback at the end, take advantage of it. The Pats did a lot to hurt themselves last time around and still lost by only seven. They should feel like if they simply play a clean game with a good start, they should be in it. -MD
Outside of Mac Jones, who do you think is the Patriots most important offensive player this week?
Trent Brown. Please be healthy and play. -FK
I'm going with Demario Douglas. He looked like he was poised to cause problems for Miami in the first meeting when he fumbled and was benched for the remainder of the game. He's a bigger part of the equation now and his role should only get bigger each week. -PP
Outside of Mac Jones, the most important offensive player this week is Demario Douglas. He is the fastest and most dynamic player on the field right now for the Patriots and can create something out of nothing by putting defenses in a blender when he catches the ball. If both Jones and Douglas can have a turnover free game and continue building on the confidence that they showcased against the Bills, great things can happen for the Patriots offense. -TB
Rhamondre. I have liked what I've seen from Zeke all season -- he runs so hard. But before last week, I didn't feel like Rhamondre was making the impact we know he's capable of. I would love to see Rhamondre take advantage of Miami's run defense and get the run game going. -AF
I would say Hunter Henry and the tight ends. The Eagles had success throwing to the tight ends against Miami's staple cover six scheme and their pressure package. I could also see this being an even bigger game for Henry if Javon Holland (concussion) can't play. The Pats need to control the middle of the field. -EL
How about Jalen Reagor? I love Pop and Rhamondre and certainly Trent is key, but for a different twist I'm going with the guy just promoted to the active roster. He's surpassed Tyquan Thornton as a back-up X-receiver and should continue to eat into DeVante Parker's usual snaps at that spot. Hoping he can make some rising contributions and bring an element of speed on the outside. -MD
What is your biggest key to pulling out a win in Miami?
Tamara said it last week of the Bills: Don't hand the Dolphins any spending money by way of turnovers and bad football. Make them earn everything. -FK
Get off to a fast start and make Miami play from behind. That's been the secret to the Patriots success in the Mac Jones era. -PP
The biggest key to pulling out a win in Miami is winning the battle in the trenches. If the Patriots can take advantage of a makeshift Miami offensive line that is down multiple players on the left side, they can disrupt Tua Tagovailoa and force him to turn the ball over. -TB
It sounds more simple than it should be, but this Patriots squad plays like a completely different team when they aren't playing from behind. Get points where you can in the first half and don't let this one get out of reach. -AF
Throwing off the timing of Miami's passing game. As optimistic as I am about the offense's progress, I don't think they'll score a lot against Fangio's defense. The Pats defense needs to go toe-to-toe with the Dolphins offense, which is banged up everywhere besides quarterback. Take advantage of those injuries/backups along the offensive line. -EL
I think it simply all has to click for them to win. Though essential, one solid area like a good start or no turnovers won't be enough to get them over the hump, even if those things keep them in the game. I think they need their cleanest game but also their best offensive and defensive execution of the season. It's a tall order but I feel like they could primed to pull it off after last week's confidence boost, coupled with Miami's injury attrition. -MD
Bonus question: You're posting up for a day of sun and fun on South Beach, what will be your drink of choice?
We're going either Bud Light or G&T (Hendricks or Aviation). -FK
Miller Lites …. Same answer regardless of venue -PP
If I was posting up for a day of fun in the sun on South Beach, my drink of choice would be a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio. -TB
I'm drinking mojitos all day so that by the time I make my way over to Espanola Way for a nice Cuban dinner I don't have to switch up the liquor. -AF
Bring me all the nooners. A High Noon variety pack and the beach is a great time. -EL
Tough choice between High Noons and Coronas. Either way, can't go wrong sipping one of those on any beach. -MD