Despite losing four out of their last five games, the New England Patriots once again control their playoff fate. If they win out against the Miami Dolphins at home and on the road against the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots will be the seventh seed in the AFC.
After yet another crushing loss on Christmas Eve against the Cincinnati Bengals, it seemed that it was all but over for the Patriots’ playoff hopes. A Christmas day upset by the Green Bay Packers over the Miami Dolphins reignited those playoff hopes.
Adding to the storyline is the unfortunate news that Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has entered the NFL’s concussion protocol, according to head coach Mike McDaniel. Tagovailoa is 4-0 against the Patriots in his career and is in jeopardy of missing this crucial late-season matchup. Check out the top football betting strategies.
The Dolphins beat the Patriots in the season opener, 20-7, in Miami but will head into this game on a four-game losing streak. Granted, it was quite a brutal stretch that included three straight road games against three playoff teams and a home loss to a dangerous Packers team, but there are apparent weaknesses on this Dolphins team.
Their defense is giving up an average of 28.5 points during their losing streak, and their offense is averaging just north of 20 points per game. The Dolphins are averaging 26.4 points per game in the 12 games Tua has started and completed this season. They scored a combined 33 points in the two full games Tua missed earlier in the year.
The week 18 matchup with the Bills certainly looks daunting at first glance. Still, if the Bills secure the top seed in the conference this weekend (which can be done with a BUF win and a KC loss) then it is not out of the realm of possibility the Patriots will be facing Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum in two straight must-win games to become the AFC’s seventh seed. What seemed impossible just a couple of days ago has become a real possibility.
Entering Christmas Eve’s matchup against the Bengals, the Patriots controlled their playoff destiny. They found themselves in a 22-0 deficit very quickly before a couple of improbable plays nearly turned into a comeback victory. Needless to say, whether they control their fate or not, the Patriots must put a better gameplan on both sides of the ball to beat a well-coached Dolphins team on Sunday.
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