Patriots-Dolphins prediction

Posted Jan. 02, 2011 @ 11:53 a.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

How many snaps will Tom Brady take? Will Bill Belichick allow Wes Welker to take the field? What about NT Vince Wilfork?

With the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs wrapped up, the Patriots don't have a whole lot to play for, and history tells us that Belichick has no problem playing his starters for at least a half. But it's raining pretty hard in Foxborough, the team has dealt with its fair share of injuries already this season and Wes Welker's ACL/MCL tear in last year's season finale is still fresh in everyone's minds.

On the other side, the Dolphins are playing for badly needed pride following three consecutive home losses to the Browns, Lions and Bills to end the '10 season with the league's worst home record. They are playing for Tony Sparano's job, and QB Chad Henne will be playing for his own.

The Patriots dominated this matchup in Week Four thanks to big special-teams plays. But Henne did have success moving the football until he started throwing interceptions.

I don't expect Belichick to play his starters the whole game, let alone three quarters of the game. There have been too many injuries already and there are major depth concerns on the defensive line. Henne should find some success through the air. The Pats will score, and TE Rob Gronkowski could have a big game, but the 'Fins will pull it out late with New England's starters preparing for their bye week.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Patriots 20