What NFL experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Dolphins game

The Patriots are 6.5-point favorites to win Sunday's game.

Damien Harris and the Patriots look to avenge their Week 1 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday.

I’m rooting for chaos.

As much fun as the Chargers-Raiders scenario is, where both teams get into the postseason if the Jaguars beat the Colts and the current and former teams of Los Angeles finish Week 18 in a tie, give me the Jets over the Bills as the upset to watch this week.

Give me every crazy scenario; Yes, it’s enough to hope the Patriots can beat the Dolphins in Miami, while the Jets beat the Bills and New England will win the AFC East. But the trifecta is still out there as a possibility.

New England can clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a win in Miami Sunday plus losses by Buffalo, Kansas City, and Tennessee. FiveThirtyEight gives it a 0.3 chance of happening, which is pretty high. As long as you consider that neither the Bills nor Bengals have a mathematic shot at all.


But the Patriots can beat the Dolphins as long as they hang onto the ball this time. The Texans can beat the Titans, a team that lost to the Jets when they had a healthy Derrick Henry. I’m less confident in the Broncos beating the Chiefs and the Jets beating a Bills team still vying for a division title.

Kansas City and Denver face off in the first game of the weekend, Saturday afternoon at 4:30. We’ll know by prime time whether or not the Patriots’ dream of a bye has expired.

If the Chiefs lose, there will be chaos and it will be beautiful.

This week’s predictions:

Globe staff: Split (New England -6.5).

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 27, Dolphins 14. “The Patriots are playing for a potential division title, while the Dolphins are done. Miami is coming off a terrible offensive showing last week and it won’t get any better here. New England will limit them again and score enough to avenge its Week 1 loss.”

John Breech, CBS Sports: Patriots 24, Dolphins 10. “The Patriots offense has gotten much better since then, but I can’t say the same for the Dolphins. Even during their seven-game winning streak, the Dolphins’ had trouble scoring and when they finally played a good Titans team in Week 17, they couldn’t score at all (They lost 34-3). I do think they’ll score more than three points in this game, but not by much.”


Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Patriots (-6.5). “I’ve got to go with a Patriots team that seems to handle its business against teams it should beat. I already regret it.”

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: New England (-6.5). “The Patri*ts are in the tourney, but they need a win and Bills loss to win the AFC East. I imagine they’ll be doing some scoreboard watching in the other game, and if the Bills are hammering the Jets, some important Pats starters could come out of this game.”

Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Dolphins (+6.5). “I worry a little about taking the Dolphins. They had playoff dreams after a seven-game winning streak, and a loss last week finished that. When the goal you’ve been chasing isn’t attainable anymore, it’s hard to get up the next game. But they have been competitive and beating the Patriots to end the season, giving Miami a winning record, is not too bad of a consolation prize. I think Brian Flores will have the Dolphins ready.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 27, Dolphins 16. “The Patriots will remember how they lost a low-scoring defensive slugfest to the Dolphins in Week 1. The Dolphins pushed for a playoff spot after going into freefall from that winning performance in New England, but that got squashed in a hurry in Tennessee. The Patriots will keep riding the running game and an efficient Mac Jones to outduel Tua Tagovailoa, putting pressure on the Bills to also win as road favorites.”


Bill Bender, Sporting News: Patriots 28, Dolphins 21. “Mac Jones keeps it rolling in preparation for his first postseason run for New England. The Dolphins, which were eliminated in Week 17, keep it competitive. New England, however, grinds out yet another AFC East victory and finishes 7-1 S/U on the road. That matters heading into the postseason.”

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 27, Dolphins 17. “The Patriots have had issues in Miami, but New England needs to win and the Dolphins are headed to another non-playoff season after winning seven in a row.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 30, Dolphins 13. “The Dolphins laid an egg in a big moment last week in their loss to the Titans, and now that they’re out of it I think they’ll fold up and lose big again.”

FiveThirtyEight: Patriots, 52 percent (-0.5).

Gregg Rosenthal, Patriots 28, Dolphins 20. “t’s not that I don’t believe in what the Dolphins accomplished during their winning streak. Tua Tagovailoa will play better in better conditions this week, and the Miami defense won’t give up much through the air. It’s just that the Patriots’ ceiling is so much higher offensively. They can run on the Dolphins and are more likely to win the turnover margin, like they have all year.”

NFL Pickwatch: Ninety percent Patriots (-260).

It says here: Patriots 25, Dolphins 12. It’s going to be a stressful Monday morning for some of Belichick’s former disciples, including Brian Flores, who won’t get any last laugh in the regular-season finale on Sunday.


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