Logan Bowles via AP

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  • Look for the Patriots’ offense to keep Kiko Alonso on his heels, and for the defense to mix up the schemes—but not as much as the last game against the Dolphins—on Monday Night Football.
By Andy Benoit
December 11, 2017

Three things to know ahead of Patriots-Dolphins on NFL Week 14 Monday Night Football...

1. The Patriots will go after linebacker Kiko Alonso, who is dynamic when he’s attacking but vulnerable when reacting. New England has an outstanding play-action game off “power” run fakes, where a guard pulls in an exaggerated effort to make a linebacker bite, and you can bet the pulling guard will come from whatever side Alonso is aligned. Too bad for the Patriots that Rob Gronkowski is suspended; the other area where Alonso struggles is in covering seam routes.

2. When the Patriots faced the Dolphins and Adam Gase’s offense in Week 12, they broke their mold of straightforward, coverage-based football and instead featured an array of disguises and pressure packages. Was that because they were facing backup quarterback Matt Moore? Or did they feel that was the best way to go after Miami’s beleaguered offense? We’ll get our answer when we see how they approach things now that Jay Cutler is back under center. The guess here is there will be more schematic volume (including blitzing) than in a typical New England game, but less than in that last Miami game. Look for any designer pass rush tactics to attack inside. The Dolphins are just so-so at guard, and center Mike Pouncey struggled mightily as a pass-blocker in the Week 12 meeting.

3. We’re seeing a little more matchup coverage from the Patriots, because they have the corners to do this. Stephon Gilmore works well against bigger receivers (in this game, that’d be Devante Parker), Malcolm Butler can travel with quicker receivers (Kenny Stills) and Jonathan Jones is getting sturdier in the slot (Jarvis Landry). 

Bold Prediction: Dion Lewis will have at least 90 of New England’s 150 yards rushing. It’s always overlooked, but the Patriots have a diverse ground game, especially out of old-fashioned base personnel.

Score Prediction: Patriots 30, Dolphins 17

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