Patriots-Dolphins matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Dec. 29, 2010 @ 4:15 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 16 game between the Patriots and Dolphins:

Patriots CB Devin McCourty vs. Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall

In a game that means nothing but pride for the Dolphins and momentum for the Patriots, there should be an entertaining battle to watch on the outside. McCourty, a rookie, has gotten plenty of well-deserved notice around the league, getting invited to the Pro Bowl in his first season. In replacing the injured Leigh Bodden, McCourty has shut down some of the league's best. He also has nabbed six interceptions.

Marshall has had a frustrating first year in Miami. This will be his least productive season since his rookie year, although he did miss two games with a hamstring injury. The physical 6-foot-4 receiver has just three touchdowns this season and likely will not reach 100 catches. But Marshall has performed extremely well in his past two games, posting 11-106-1 vs. the Bills and 10-102 against the Lions.

McCourty should give Marshall a challenge in the physicality department. A solid special-teams contributor as well, McCourty is a very good tackler. He also has shown the speed to stick with receivers downfield. He has been beaten on jump balls this season, and Marshall has the height and jumping ability to take advantage, although Chad Henne has rarely attempted to hit Marshall on a fade pattern.

The Patriots' corners generally give a big cushion and rely on sure tackling, and Marshall likes to get the ball in space with room to work, so McCourty and Marshall two should be very active on Sunday.