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NFL Betting Miami at New England

September 20, 2008

NFL Football Betting - Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

If there has been a time recently when the Dolphins have had a chance to beat the Patriots, one would think that time is now as the absence of Tom Brady has forced New England to be a bit more conservative offensively.

In their first game in seven years without Tom Brady starting under center, the New England Patriots certainly didn't look like the team that set an NFL record for points while going 16-0 last year. Odds makers continue to make Patriots backers lay steep chalk however, setting the line at -12.

While New England doesn't seem to have the same big play ability as it had last year, it does resemble the team that has won three Super Bowls earlier this decade. The Pats will try to go back to their roots to extend their regular season winning streak to 22 games on Sunday.

After Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury just eight minutes into New England's opener with Kansas City, fans and odds makers alike wondered what to expect from the Pats. The response was favoring the Jets against the Patriots last week. Coach Bill Belichick's team responded with a blue collar effort in a 19-10 victory at the New York Jets.

Matt Cassel has not been flashy or spectacular, but he has been rock solid since taking over for Brady and we saw what being rock solid can do with Eli Manning a season ago. Cassel went 16 of 23 for 165 yards and most importantly no turnovers.

Without Brady, the Patriots appear unlikely to rack up passing yards and blowouts as they did in 2007. However, even with Brady at quarterback, that wasn't the team's style in 2003-04, when they went 14-2 and won Super Bowls in back-to-back seasons despite averaging fewer than 220 passing yards per game.

They were even less prolific on the offensive side of the football in 2001 when Tom Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe and led the team to its first Super Bowl championship. Perhaps history will repeat itself with Cassel.

One thing the Pats have been able to rely on is a stiff defense. It has only allowed 10 points per game in each of the first two games of the season.

Despite the Patriots success since Belichick took over in 2000, they're just 9-7 against the Dolphins over that span - their worst record against any AFC East opponent.

Miami has fallen into a rough patch the past few seasons, and the team is not off to an encouraging start, losing each of its first two games, but if anyone can get the ship sailing in the right direction it's Bill Parcells.

Miami knows that a big win this week would do a lot for the confidence of this football team but that seems like a tall task after the way it looked in a 31-10 loss at Arizona last Sunday.

In just his second game with the Dolphins, QB Chad Pennington was pulled in favor of rookie Chad Henne, who directed Miami's lone touchdown drive. The Dolphins have said that Pennington will start again this week.

The Dolphins haven't been able to move the ball on the ground either. Ricky Williams has only 52 rushing yards and backfield mate Ronnie Brown has only 48.

We don't expect to see the Pats completely obliterate the Dolphins, but we do expect them to continue their dominance, winning this one by at least two touchdowns.

Pick: New England Patriots -12 (-110) available at

- Jimmy Boyd of

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