Originally written on Phins Phocus  |  Last updated 11/10/14
After a disastrous start to the season a year ago, meaningful December football will return to Miami this weekend as the Dolphins take on the AFC East leading New England Patriots. The 8-3 Patriots have yet to feel any pressure from their division rivals as they can already clinch a playoff spot with a win on Sunday while the 5-6 Dolphins will look to build off their comeback victory over Seattle and continue their climb back into the AFC playoff picture.  Following a shaky start to the season, New England has strung together one dominating performance after another on route to a five game winning streak which they will take into Sun Life Stadium. In order for the Dolphins to overcome this offensive powerhouse, there are several things that must go right for them, starting with play similar to that of the fourth quarter against the Seahawks.  The element of this year's version of the Patriots that make them unique to those in years past is a rejuvinated run game. Stevan Ridley has taken the starting running back role and never looked back, rushing for 939 yards and 8 touchdowns. The recent emergence of Shane Vereen out of the backfield has given the Patriots the luxury of having a top 10 running back combination in the entire league and adding a second dimension to go along with a potent passing game. Luckily for the Dolphins, what they do best is stopping the run and it was evident last week when they held Marshawn Lynch to only 46 yards on 19 carriers in a career year thus far. Look for the Dolphins to do the same against Ridley and Vereen, ultimately taking one half of their attack out of the equation. If Miami was to soley focus on the passing game, which will be a monumental challenge to shut down, and underestimate the run, they will be in store for a rather lenghty afternoon. With the Patriots threat on the ground eliminated, the Dolphins must look to minimize Tom Brady's success through the air. Miami's mediocre secondary can't be relied on with Brady at the helm and a variety of weapons at his diposal so the Dolphins front seven must ensure that he does not find a rhythm by continually putting pressure on him. The only way to stop a quarterback as consistent as Brady has been over the past decade is to get him on the turf as often as possible and limit the time he has to operate in the pocket. The performance of the secondary will be directly linked to the pass rush, it is up to the front seven to determine how this game will be played; Brady will either struggle against the rush or shred the Dolphins defense. The Patriots are a tall order for any team so it doesn't help your chances of winning by providing New England with additional opportunities. Tannehill and the Dolphins did a solid job of protecting the football against Seattle and as the game progressed they were able to move down the field and capitalize with touchdowns in the red zone. The Miami offense will have to turn in the same, if not a better performance to keep up with New England and keep Brady on the sidelines. Turnovers have plagued Miami this season and their 27th ranked turnover margin has surely cost them a few victories. Although it may be a lot to ask from a rookie with minimal passing options, Tannehill must make the right decisions and avoid foring throws to keep the 'Phins in a position to win. In order for the Dolphins to play the game at their own tempo and control the time of possesion, they will need to execute at a high level on offense and have success running the ball. Against a stingy Seahawks defense, Reggie Bush turned in his best performance of the season since week 3, rushing for 87 yards including a 22 yard touchdown. That trend must continue if the Dolphins are to open up the field for Tannehill to take some shots and make plays.  While the odds are stacked up in the Patriots favour, the Dolphins are in prime position to pull off a stunning upset however it will take near perfect football in all three phases of the game to do so. The parity in the NFL has been evident in the first twelve weeks of play and the phrase "Any Given Sunday" has proven to be true on many occasions. There's no reason to believe that it won't carry over for at least another week.   
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao close to deal for fight

TJ Lang: Suh wanted to fight me after stepping on Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Hernandez jurors allowed to watch Super Bowl

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate during presser


Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

Bill Belichick gives understated scouting report of Tom Brady

President Obama zings Patriots over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's Player Of The Year candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots-Seahawks

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Most unexpected MLB free agent signings of past 10 years

Five most villainous Super Bowls of all time

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

Foster says UT boosters paid him $40-50K while in college

Ranking the repeat Super Bowl champions

Eric Decker to Sherman: Time your conception a little better

Could Katy Perry and Russell Wilson be dating?

The Media isn't the villain we deserve, but it's the one we need

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

LeBron and the Cavs are ready to make a run

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.