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Game Scout: Dolphins-Patriots

The SportsXchange

Miami Dolphins (3-3) at New England Patriots (5-2)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. - TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

*Keys to the game: The Dolphins are in the midst of a three-game slide because of a fatal combination of poor pass protection and running game issues that trace back to the offensive line. QB Ryan Tannehill has looked jumpy at times with seven turnovers during the losing streak and 11 this season. Tannehill has been sacked 26 times. The Dolphins have done a lot of things in an effort to keep him upright - max protection, three-step drops, rollouts - but haven't found the right mix. Short passes that draw the Patriots' linebackers into coverage will be an option Tannehill investigates. Tom Brady has one touchdown pass -- the last-gasp toss that beat the Saints -- in the past three games. He'll get more comfortable with TE Rob Gronkowski (17 targets last week) but needs an outside option to lean on. The Patriots are letting pressure get to Brady (13 sacks in three games). The Dolphins allow 3.8 yards a carry on the ground, but the Patriots will push to establish RB Stevan Ridley and balance the offense to aid a growing passing game.

*Matchup to watch - Dolphins WR Mike Wallace vs. Patriots CB Aqib Talib -- If this matchup goes Miami's way it opens up the entire passing game. But Wallace and Tannehill aren't connecting consistently. If Tannehill is throwing back-shoulder passes to Wallace, Tannehill said it indicates they are in sync.

*Player spotlight - Patriots LB Brandon Spikes: Spikes is a downhill linebacker but he's a liability in coverage. RB Lamar Miller is a breakaway threat and the Dolphins can spread the field, attempting to isolate Spikes in coverage.

*Fast facts: The Patriots are 24-3 at home since 2010. ... Three of Dolphins WR Brian Hartline's four career 100-yard games have been on the road.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Patriots push their winning streak over Miami to seven games by controlling the ball and blowing through Miami's rebuilt offensive line.

*Our pick: Patriots 21-12
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