With the 2021 season finally upon us and the Dolphins game at the Patriots just hours away, the Aqua Thirteen writers have put our collective heads together to bring you our picks for Week 1.
With the Dolphins entering year two of the Tua Tagovailoa era, they’ll be looking to get the season off to a flying start against division rivals. The Patriots hope they’ve found the long-term replacement for Tom Brady, and they still have that future hall-of-famer on the sideline.
WEEK 1: DOLPHINS @ PATRIOTS : THE PICKS
RAY’S PICK DOLPHINS 20 – PATRIOTS 17
I’ve gone back and forth on this one in my head for the past few weeks (months if I’m honest). Bill Belichick has given be nightmares for the past 20-some years and I can honestly say if he wasn’t the Patriots HC for this game I would be calling an easy win.
The development of Tua, now fully healthy, with Jaylen Waddle added as a weapon and Albert Wilson back from a COVID-red-shirt year, there is no room for excuses anymore. Except, there’s that OL to consider. A unit still so inexperienced and that wasn’t particularly good last year.
When you factor in that the Patriots have one of the greatest defensive minds in the history of the game, have added Judon, and have re-signed Kyle Van Noy, I’d be lying if I said the protection doesn’t give me fears.
But let’s not forget the Dolphins handled the Patriots 22-12 in Week 15 last season down in Miami. With Mac Jones replacing Cam Newton as QB I don’t see the Patriots putting up too many points. It all boils down to the OL against the Patriots rushers. It could really go either way but I’ll stump for the staff trusting the OL so I will too. Dolphins win a tight one to get the season rolling.
JMR’S PICK: DOLPHINS 16 – PATRIOTS 14
In my mind, we win this, JUST. And we win whilst once again praising the talents of Jason Sanders.
I see a really close, low scoring game. I think both teams will start tentatively, not taking risks to ensure they’re still in the game late on. Both teams playing not to lose, rather than aggressively trying to win.
After years of watching the Dolphins, I’m so used to Belichick knowing what we’re going to do that I worry they will stifle us for the majority of the game.
A lot has been made of our shakey OLine, and they will be put to the test. Kyle Van Noy will have the biggest of chips on his shoulder and he will have Tua in his crosshairs all game with a point to prove. Add his supporting cast of the returing Hightower, the new boy Judon, the dynamic 2nd year Uche and the ever dangerous Winovich and we could be in for a frustrating night.
I see us trailing narrowly at the half before turning it around in the second half. Mac Jones will get his first two NFL touchdowns, and Tua will get one of his own in a game with no rushing touchdowns, but plenty of rushing yards churned out over the course of the game.
Jason Sanders will be our hero with 3 scores from 3, and I believe one of which will be a game winner inside the final 2 minutes.
Unexciting, but productive and most importantly we start the season 1-0.
GARETH’S PICK: DOLPHINS 20 – PATRIOTS 10
The Patriots offensive strength is the Dolphins defensive weakness. The run game of New England could cause Miami problems. I think this will be countered by Miami playing 8 in the box. Patriots WRs shouldn’t, in theory cause the Dolphins secondary any problems. Which will allow for 8 man boxes and cause a lot of pressures for Mac Jones to deal with in his debut.
You could say something similar for the other side of the ball. The Patriots are missing a few key pieces in the secondary, including Stephon Gilmore. As we all know WR is one of our deepest positions. Even though the Dolphins have questions marks on the OL the Patriots have a few new faces in the front 7. There’s a chance that with so many player changes it will take the Patriots time to gel on defence. Miami doesn’t face the same issue.
RICHARD’S PICK: DOLPHINS 28 – PATRIOTS 18
The wait is finally over and we get to see how (some of) Tua’s weapons will function within the Miami offence. By getting the ball out early to Gaskin and Ahmed, the Dolphins should be able to take some pressure off their weak offensive line. There may even be a few chunk plays sprinkled in, using the explosive speed of Waddle and Grant, and the slipperiness of Gesicki.
Defensively we stack up pretty well against the Pats offence. Thinking back to Flores’ demolition of the rookie Jared Goff in that famous Superbowl in 2019, it bodes well that the Dolphins Head Coach and defensive mastermind knows how to game plan to stifle rookie Quarterbacks. The Dolphins have a lot of defensive pieces at their disposal and should be looking to combine tight coverage with the likes of Howard and Byron Jones with the power up front in Ogbah, Butler, Sieler, Davis and Wilkins.
I trust the Dolphins will have too much for a Patriots team that underwhelmed last season.
RICKY’S PICK: DOLPHINS 42 – PATRIOTS 27
When I was asked to share a prediction of the Dolphins/Patriots game among a group of writers, I had to truly re-evaluate what I had told them earlier in the week. I had told them and still believe that Tua Tagovailoa is poised to have a big game for the season opener. Whether it is going to be as big of a game I had predicted with my fellow writers is yet to be determined by certain factors. But I truly believe the outcome of the game will all depend on what type of play Tua brings to the field.
Tua is going to be playing at 100% health for the first time in his NFL career when he plays the Patriots for his season opener Sunday. It is true that he balled out in college when he was healthy. But this is the NFL, and in my opinion, he is facing one of the best cornerbacks in the league (no, not Stephon Gilmore) in J.C. Jackson, whom was the second-best CB in the league behind Xavien Howard in 2020 with 9 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries, and 14 passes defended.
He is also facing a pass rush that will include Kyle Van Noy, Matt Judon, rookie Christian Barmore, and a returning Don’ta Hightower. If Miami’s offensive line fails to do its job in protecting Tua then it may be a bad day for Tua and the Dolphins. If the Dolphins O-Line steps it up a notch, then the game’s outcome may be surprising to the NFL world.
I would like to remain positive and believe the Dolphins offensive line will do everything in its power to play the best game we have seen in a long time and give the Dolphins every chance to win the game. Just for reference purposes I had originally told my fellow writers that Tua was going to ball out with 437 yards and 5 touchdowns. However, my updated stats are included in my prediction below.
Stats for Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa : 368 yards, 4 tds, 1 Int, 2 sacks; Biggest playmakers: Mike Gesicki: 112 yards 2 touchdowns, Jaylen Waddle 91 yards 2 tdsStats for Patriots: Mac Jones: 311 yards 3 touchdowns, Biggest playmakers, Damien Harris, 89 yards, Kendrick Bourne 74 yards 1 touchdown
JAY’S PICK: DOLPHINS 24 – PATRIOTS 17
It’ll be a battle of the defences but I really do think the Dolphins team overall is better than the Patriots. Gaskin, Gesicki and Brown to score.
JACOB’S PICK: DOLPHINS 27 – PATRIOTS 14
Everything is setup in front of the Dolphins to have themselves a fun and comfortable Week 1 victory in Foxborough to kick off the 2021 NFL season, it is just up to them to capitalize on this opportunity. Even with the absence of Dolphins’ receiver Will Fuller, Miami’s passing game is going to play key role in the Dolphins’ success in this week’s matchup, especially with New England being without the services of CB Stephon Gilmore.
I fully expect big contributions from DeVante Parker, rookie Jaylen Waddle, and especially Mike Gesicki, in who Tua showed exceptional chemistry during the preseason. Expect the Dolphins’ defense to make life very miserable for Patriots QB Mac Jones right away, and Miami to cruise themselves to a fun season opening victory.