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junkmansports
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Patriots at Dolphins: Who'll cover the spread?

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On 09/12/2011 07:18 AM in NFL
We’ve got a double-header for the first edition of Monday Night Football this season but we’re zeroing on the first game in this week’s debate.

Russ Loede from PatriotsGab.com tells us why New England is the right play while Kevin Nogle from ThePhinsider.com argues in favor of the home underdog.

WHY THE PATRIOTS COVER

Henne without run game

For the Dolphins to function, they have to run the football and control the clock against the Patriots. Rookie running back Daniel Thomas is nursing a hamstring injury and I don't believe the Fish can show New England a balanced offensive attack with Reggie Bush and Larry “I can’t believe I’m not retired” Johnson running the ball.

Bill Belichick, is going to have fun playing games with the erratic and mistake-prone Chad Henne knowing the ground game is absent.

Devin McCourty

A budding star at cornerback, the second-year pro from Rutgers will be asked to shadow the Dolphins best playmaker; Brandon Marshall. McCourty will shut down Marshall and take away Miami’s best offensive weapon in the process.

Brady's quick release

Cameron Wake is a force to be reckoned with but the Pats can limit the pass rusher because of Brady's precise pocket presence. The 2010 NFL MVP will operate fully aware of Wake's presence and ability to change a game.

Fortunately, the scintillating signal caller has a vast array of intermediate weapons to sling the rock to before Cam reaches him. New England’s offense is filled with players who can find space and get open quickly. Mismatches will abound and Brady and the Patriots will find ways to pick apart the Dolphins’ pass defense.

WHY THE DOLPHINS COVER THE SPREAD

Dolphins Defense

For some reason, Miami's sixth ranked defense from last season has been completely forgotten at the start of this year - and all the Dolphins did was get better.

They have the most incredibly deep defensive line I have ever seen. Jared Odrick, last season's first round draft choice who sat out the year on IR, is now the third string right defensive end behind Randy Starks and Phillip Merling - yet Ordick is seen as a starting caliber defensive end.

Then there's the emergence of Cameron Wake as an elite pass rusher. With his 14 sacks last year and Pro Bowl selection, you would think people would respect the Dolphins' ability to get to the quarterback, but for some reason, they aren't.

And finally, our cornerbacks are amazing. They may not become the "best tandem in the NFL," as Vontae Davis declared earlier this preseason, but they (Davis and Sean Smith) are going to be right there with the best.

This defense is going to be scary, and people just don't realize it yet.

New Offense

Last year, the Dolphins ran an erratic offense. Every time they got into a rhythm, the offensive coordinator Dan Henning would call a random play that would kill the drive. This year, with offensive coordinator Brain Daboll, things appear to be different.

Everyone in Miami is talking about how the offense is "attacking" and "explosive." In 2008, the Dolphins unleashed the Wildcat formation on the Patriots and decimated them with it. The Dolphins will look to establish this new offense in much the same way.

Chad Henne

We all know the Dolphins were talking with the Denver Broncos about acquiring quarterback Kyle Orton. But, that didn't happen, so everyone assumes Miami is a mess behind center.

But, Chad Henne hasn't played like a mess. He actually looked good this preseason and he could be the guy who finally solidifies the QB position in Miami.

Daboll's offense allows Henne to actually audible to any play necessary, instead of just a one play "check with me" option like last year, which will give Henne some needed freedom.

In today's NFL, the success of first year starters like Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Mark Sanchez have people expecting a rookie to always come in and immediately demonstrate greatness. We forget that Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady all sat and developed before getting on to the field. Chad Henne got one year under Chad Pennington before he was made the starter.

Now, in his third year as that starter, Henne appears ready to actually take the reins.
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