Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Sunday, January 2, 2011, 1:00 pm EST, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Patriots -2
Current Line: Patriots -4
Opening Total: 42.5
Current Total: 43.5
Money Line: Patriots -200 / Dolphins +170
The New England Patriots (13-2) have already clinched the AFC East title and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, making Sunday’s divisional matchup with the Miami Dolphins (7-8) an interesting call for head coach Bill Belichick. Just last year, Belichick made the decision to play his starters after the Patriots (-4) had already won the division, and star wide receiver Wes Welker ended up suffering a serious knee injury.
Welker led the league in receptions last season but was not available when New England hosted Baltimore the following week, resulting in a 33-14 home loss to Baltimore in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Belichick does not want to make the same mistake twice considering this year’s team is much better and certainly capable of winning the Super Bowl for the fourth time.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is also playing arguably the best football of his entire career, throwing 24 touchdowns with no interceptions on his last 319 pass attempts over the last 10 games. Brady too knows what it’s like to go down with a season-ending knee injury, and you can bet his head coach will not risk playing the starters too long against the Dolphins.
New England as a team has not turned the ball over in winning each of its last seven games, averaging over 37 points since losing 34-14 at Cleveland in Week 9. The Pats should set the lerague record for least turnovers in a season set by Miami and the New York Giants (13) in 2008 with only nine so far.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins surprisingly own a 6-1 road record despite tying a franchise record for least home wins last week with a 34-27 loss to Detroit. Miami finished the season with a 1-7 mark at home after losing to a Lions team that had dropped 26 of 27 away from home.
There are expected to be a number of offseason changes for the Dolphins following another disappointing season, starting with quarterback Chad Henne and possibly head coach Tony Sparano. Henne has been a turnover machine (18 interceptions and two fumbles lost in 14 games) and failed to lead a talented offense ironically following controversial comments leading up to the NFL draft that Tim Tebow would not be able to play at this level.
Miami has enjoyed some success against New England despite losing five of the last seven meetings straight-up. The Dolphins are 4-3 against the spread in those games and have covered six of their seven road games this year with the UNDER going 6-1. The Patriots are 5-2 ATS during their seven-game winning streak and 3-3-1 ATS in going 7-0 at home this season.
Now that you have read this football betting preview featuring the Patriots & Dolphins, make sure to check out the NFL odds on this and all the games to compare the best lines at multiple sportsbooks.