Three things to watch for as the Patriots take on the Dolphins in Miami Monday (8:30 p.m., ESPN/WCVB 5):
The best way to raise the confidence of a defense in today’s NFL is to play the Denver Broncos and that’s exactly what the Dolphins did last weekend when they dominated Denver, 35-9. Miami forced Trevor Siemian into three interceptions and the defense recorded two safeties in one game for the first time in franchise history.
Prior to the Denver game, the Dolphins were giving up 36.6 points per game in their previous three weeks (losses to the Patriots, Buccaneers and Panthers). The Dolphins do have some impressive wins on their resume thanks to strong defensive efforts this season as they held the Chargers to 19 points way back on Sept. 17 and held Atlanta to 20 points on Oct. 15.
Let Cutler throw
The Patriots feasted on Miami quarterback Matt Moore 15 days ago, forcing Moore to throw two interceptions. Moore finished the game – a 35-17 loss to the Pats – having completed 23-of-34 passes for 215 yards and had an ugly 70.1 passer rating.
As bad as Moore was in that one, expect Jay Cutler to be worse in Miami Gardens on Monday night. The Pats historically own Cutler as he is 0-3 against New England and has lost those games by a combined 91 points. Cutler averaged an ugly 182.3 passing yards in those losses and threw five interceptions.
This is 40
Tom Brady seems to be getting hit harder than ever at age 40 and every time No. 12 goes down for 2-3 seconds, Boston holds its collective breath. Brady was hit seven times against the Dolphins two weeks ago, four of those seven coming from old nemesis Cameron Wake. With a good amount of pressure, Brady also threw his third interception of the season to Bobby McCain when he wasn’t able to step into his throw.
Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who also got to Brady two weeks ago, was happy to see Brady screaming at offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels last week against the Bills and hopes Brady’s frustrations continue Monday in Miami.
“I’d love to make him mad,” Suh told the Palm Beach Post. “My job is to piss him off and have him yelling at his offensive linemen for not blocking me, his coach and everybody on the sideline. That’s my job.”