What NFL experts are saying about Sunday’s Patriots-Dolphins game

Patriots

Will New England bounce back after falling short against the Eagles?

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throws a pass against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throws a pass against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. AP Photo/Kyusung Gong

COMMENTARY

It’s too early in the NFL season to really understand if that foot is going to mean anything.

What if Kayshon Boutte’s inability to get both feet inbounds (the second time) winds up being the difference between the New England Patriots being a playoff team or spending (another) January watching the rest of the league have the fun that your team used to. Imagine if this team is good enough to go 18-1, just how frustrating that foot will be. 

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Or, it’ll probably mean nothing. 

In fact, the overall judgement on the play itself has shifted a bit in the days since. Knee-jerk reaction was to wonder why a rookie is in that situation — down by five and driving with the game on the line — instead of veterans like DeVante Parker (hurt) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (not Jakobi Meyers). But in the days since, I’ve heard echoes of a different take: Philadelphia cornerback Josh Jobe made a pretty nice play to get Boutte’s second foot out of bounds. 

Maybe the foot should act as a “…to be continued…” After all, we were in the midst of Mac Jones’ defining moment before it was interrupted. By the foot. Maybe the best is yet to come. The foot only delayed the love affair you’re prepared to have with this team by one week. Maybe. 

Or what if the foot winds up being like the misstep everyone will forget as Boutte soars his way to a Rookie of the Year campaign? “Just when you thought…” Perhaps it will be a deciding factor in the NFC East that helps keep the New York Giants out of the mix of teams vying for the Super Bowl, just so we don’t have to do that whole thing again. 

Then again, maybe it’s the difference between Boutte sticking around or winding up on the practice roster. 

Maybe it’s nothing. 

It’s just Week One. It’s just a foot. 

Dream on.

This week’s predictions:

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Dolphins 24, Patriots 20. “Give the living ghost of Bill Belichick credit. He may be defrocked of his genius card ever since Tom Brady left and took the winning with him, but Bill still know how to coach him some defense. He still majors in taking away what the opponent does best, so we have to figure the Patriots will scheme to derail Tyreek Hill as Tua Tagovailoa’s chief target. But even if that works to some degree, doesn’t that just mean Jaylen Waddle’s fantasy owners will be smiling? Miami had nine plays of 20-plus yards vs. Chargers last week while Pats gave up only one such long play in their 25-20 loss to Philly. New England’s defense assures these old AFC East rivals will fill the Sunday night stage with a great game. This is a jinx situation to overcome for Miami, with the Fins having won only twice in past 14 trips to Foxborough. Then again Miami is on a 12-3 run as a betting favorite, and Tagovailoa is 4-0 in his young career vs. the Pats, only proving that trends can bend to your needs. Miami is hopeful LT Terron Armstead is back in action and that an iffy Waddle will be ready, too. RB Raheem Mostert seems the biggest injury concern. Pats are a trendy upset pick, but I correctly had Fins an upset winner in L.A. last week and I’ll continue riding the Dolphins train until it throws me off.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 24, Dolphins 23. “Miami is coming off a high-flying offensive victory against the Chargers. Tua Tagovailoa was outstanding in that game. The Patriots lost to the Eagles, but the defense played well. That defense will keep them in this game as they slow down the high-flying Dolphins to win it late. Upset special.”

CBS Sports staff: Six of eight like New England (+2.5). 

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Dolphins (-3). “The Patriots have somehow been praised for playing well Week 1. Uh, OK. They got a D+ effort from the Eagles and still couldn’t pull off the upset win despite ample opportunities. Meanwhile, their offensive line remains very banged up and they’ll be facing an offense that gained 536 yards in their opener. How is this line only 3?”

ESPN staff: Six of 10 take the Pats.

Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Dolphins (-3). “This is a hard game to pick and landing on the Dolphins laying a field goal seems square. I assume everyone will be on Miami for the Sunday night game. But my approach with the Dolphins remains the same: Since the start of last season, the Dolphins have been one of the NFL’s elite teams in games that Tua Tagovailoa started and finished. They don’t get that kind of respect at the betting window though.”

Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer: Miami (-3). “It’s possible that the Patriots stymie this Dolphins attack, but Miami was too impressive last week for me to fade them here.”

USA Today staff: Six of the eight pick the Dolphins.

SB Nation staff: Only one of the 11 likes New England.

Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: Dolphins 27, Patriots 24. “Miami’s offense is something that can drive New England’s defense batty with its pure emphasis on getting its fastest players in open field (see Tyreek Hill and more Tyreek Hill) for Mike McDaniel. The Patriots’ offense can’t test the Dolphins’ Jalen Ramsey-less secondary well without much in the receiving corps. Tagovailoa is playing on point and can outduel his old college teammate Mac Jones with less pressure and more juice around him.”

Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Dolphins 24, Patriots 21. “The Dolphins have a chance to put the Patriots in a 0-2 hole, and the difference will be the passing game. Patriots coach Bill Belichick will try to take away Tyreek Hill, and it will work to some extent. The difference in these teams’ games last year was turnovers. Which teams protects the ball in a tight game? “

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Dolphins 28, Patriots 23.

Chris Simms, Pro Football Talk: Dolphins 28, Patriots 24.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times: Dolphins 27, Patriots 21. “Coordinator Bill O’Brien is a big upgrade for the Patriots’ offense, and they’re not rolling over at home. But Miami has unreal speed on offense that’s really difficult to contain. Somebody will get open.”

It says here: Patriots 26, Dolphins 21. Forget the game; who’s gonna be the lighthouse keeper?


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