New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) speaks with head coach Bill Belichick, right, during practice Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The spread between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins kept growing this week, just as it has been doing for years, and just as it is expected to do Sunday.
Patriots at Dolphins
SERIES RECORD —Dolphins lead 55-52LAST MEETING —Dolphins beat Patriots 34-33, Dec. 9, 2018LAST WEEK — Patriots beat Steelers 33-3; Dolphins lost to Ravens 59-10AP PRO32 RANKING — Patriots No. 1, Dolphins No. 32PATRIOTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (7), RUSH (18), PASS (6).PATRIOTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (9), RUSH (3), PASS (20).DOLPHINS OFFENSE — OVERALL (32), RUSH (32), PASS (25).DOLPHINS DEFENSE — OVERALL (32), RUSH (32), PASS (29T).STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Patriots have lost five of past six games in Miami, including last year in Week 14, when Dolphins won with pass and double lateral on final play. Dolphins haven’t won game since. … Since Bill Belichick became Patriots coach in 2000, New England is 24-14 (.632) against Miami. … New Dolphins coach Brian Flores worked for Patriots for 15 seasons in variety of roles, and was defensive play caller for last year’s Super Bowl champions. … Dolphins offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham are former Patriots assistants. … Tom Brady has 90-plus passer rating in four of past five meetings with Miami. Brady passed for 341 yards, three TDs and had no INTs for 124.9 passer rating last week. He’s looking for third straight game with three or more passing TDs and 120-plus passer rating. … With victory, Brady will tie George Blanda for second-most regular-season wins in NFL history with 209. Adam Vinatieri is first with 215 wins. … Since 2000, Patriots are 88-30 (.746) against AFC East opponents. … Since entering league in 2010, new Patriots WR Antonio Brown leads all players in catches (837) and yards receiving (11,207). … Patriots had no turnovers last week against Pittsburgh. Since 2001, Pats are 93-13 when they don’t turn over ball and 86-2 with positive turnover margin. … Dolphins are 0-1 for first time since 2016 and are coming off most lopsided regular-season loss in franchise history. They allowed franchise record 643 yards and tied team record by allowing six touchdown passes. … Miami trailed 42-10 at halftime to set record for most points allowed in first half of season’s first game in 100-season history of NFL. … Miami’s three RBs combined for 12 yards on 10 carries. … New Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has had at least 250 yards passing and passer rating over 95 in past four games against Patriots. … Fantasy tip: If they build big lead, Patriots might keep ball on ground in second half, which could mean busy day for any New England RB.
New England began the week as a 14-point favorite Sunday, and the number steadily rose to 18½, pushed higher partly by the prospect of Patriots newcomer Antonio Brown running free through a hapless Dolphins secondary. The signal sent by bettors: They expect a rout.
New England-Miami could be the NFL’s biggest mismatch until Week 17, when they meet again in Foxborough. Here are things to know about the AP’s No. 1-ranked team versus No. 32:
The Dolphins couldn’t cover Ravens rookie Marquis Brown, so they might have trouble with his cousin.
Marquis Brown played only 14 snaps in his NFL debut but caught four passes for 147 yards and two scores against the Dolphins. Now they’re bracing for another member of the Brown family, this one a four-time All-Pro receiver who signed Monday with the Patriots.
“He’s as dynamic as they get,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said.
Antonio Brown’s status was in doubt because of a civil lawsuit filed by his former trainer accusing him of sexually assaulting her on three occasions. Regardless of whether Brown plays, the Dolphins figure Tom Brady is especially eager to throw after watching them give up six touchdown passes against Baltimore.
“It’s going to be an air raid,” Miami safety Bobby McCain predicted.
The Dolphins and rookie coach Flores must shake off the shell shock from last week’s shellacking, the most lopsided regular-season loss in team history.
In the wake of the embarrassment came rumblings that players are unhappy with the coaching staff, and with the organization’s decision to make next year’s draft a bigger priority than this year’s roster. Disgruntled Miami Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick requested and received permission to seek a trade, but he’s expected to have a significant role in the game.
“I try to build relationships,” Flores said. “When you go through tough times, those relationships either get stronger or they don’t. Last week was a part of that. Hopefully we come out of this stronger.”
Publicly, Flores’ players expressed confidence the Dolphins can regroup.
“We’re going to get this thing turned around,” receiver Jakeem Grant said. “We’re going to come out and play a much better game.”
Miami gave up a franchise record 643 yards last week. And they weren’t playing Brady.
“That’s why we love the game — because we love challenges,” Flores said with a grin. “We love to compete. To me, this is fun.”
The Patriots had to tinker with their offensive line before the opener after center David Andrews was placed on injured reserve. Ted Karras, who spent last season as a backup right guard but played 16 games at center in 2017, took Andrews’ place.
More shuffling may be needed this week with right tackle Marcus Cannon recovering from a shoulder injury suffered against Pittsburgh. Joe Thuney, who normally starts at left guard, moved into Cannon’s spot following the injury. If Thuney stays in Cannon’s spot, candidates at left guard include Korey Cunningham and Jermaine Eluemunor.
Cunningham started six games at tackle as a rookie for Arizona. Eluemunor saw time at both guard and tackle for Baltimore the past two seasons.
Despite being big favorites, the Patriots insist they aren’t taking the Dolphins lightly. Part of the reason is the Dolphins have won five of the last six meetings in Miami. That includes last year’s stunner when Kenyan Drake scampered the final 52 yards after the Dolphins pulled off a pass and double lateral on the final play for a 34-33 victory.
“It’s a challenging place to play,” Brady said. “Last year I thought we played a pretty good game, but in football, a lot of crazy things happen.”
Flores worked for the Patriots for 15 seasons in a variety of roles, and was defensive play caller for last year’s Super Bowl champions. He said he thinks back often to his time with New England.
“This role is very different,” he said. “Back in those days, I was one of the guys. I’m not one of the guys anymore. I’m the guy everybody kind of walks away from.”
AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Foxborough, Massachusetts, contributed to this report.
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