Want to know the last time the Miami Dolphins were favored over the New England Patriots by at least nine points?
You’ll need a sports almanac. It’s been 31 years. The starting quarterbacks in that game? Dan Marino and Jeff Carlson. (Miami won that game, but it took overtime.)
So we’re in unfamiliar, if not uncharted, territory in Week 9 when the 2-5 Patriots were, as of Friday, 9.5-point underdogs to the 5-2 host Dolphins.
But here’s the thing: Dolphins coaches are probably still a bit uneasy going against Bill Belichick.
Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins Taking Patriots Very Seriously
Their concern is warranted.
We’ve reached the point of the season that the New England Patriots historically remember that they’re the New England Patriots.
Belichick, for whatever reason, needs a month or so to get the feel for his team and then kicks them into high gear.
Everyone remembers the “We’re On To Cincinnati” news conference. Nine years later, you might forget the details.
The Chiefs blew the doors off the Patriots 41-14 in Week 4 of the 2014 season, prompting many to wonder (insanely, in retrospect) if the Patriots’ window was closing.
They went on to win 13 of their last 15 games to claim their fourth of six Super Bowl championships. Granted, that was a far different roster with a far different quarterback. Tom Brady isn’t walking through that door to crib from another Celtics coach.
But Mac Jones is coming off arguably the most impressive game of his career, completing 25 of 30 passes for 272 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions in a home upset of the Buffalo Bills.
MORE: Is This Emmanuel Ogbah’s Last Game With the Miami Dolphins?
Jones connected with ex-Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki on a one-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left to complete just the second fourth-quarter comeback of his career.
The Patriots’ defense is rounding into form as well.
New England’s D ranks first in yards per carry (3.4), sixth in yards per play (4.8), and eighth in red-zone efficiency (45.8%).
So it’s no wonder, then, that Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel was thrilled to finally get a query about the Patriots 14 questions into his Wednesday news conference.
PFN asked McDaniel about how the Patriots have evolved since the Dolphins’ 24-17 win in Week 2.
Here was his response:
“It’s so funny, I feel like everyone invests so much emotion and attention. It’s all so important to everybody, NFL football in general, fan bases, coaches, players.
“But it almost makes me feel like the human population is senile, because it’s like every single year, every single year … they get better during the course of the season.
“… Coach Belichick has been there since — I think he got his start when I was going to prom, right? And like, how many of the scenarios have been like, ‘What’s happening here with the team after four weeks?’ or whatever, and it’s like a created adversity. And sure enough, they get better as the season progresses.
“I think that is the formula. I think that’s the end-all for NFL football, and I see a better version of themselves as I would expect — because my eyes and ears are wide open — as I would expect from historical, just my observations since I’ve been an adult.
“They focus on fundamentals. They do a good job tuning out the noise. I see a team that just last week was an example. I’m sure there were some people that lost money but not anybody within the team. (laughter) I’ve learned not to be surprised at their team development and growth during the course of the season.”
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