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

Tom Brady New England Patriots
Joe Thuney prepares to protect quarterback Tom Brady as he takes a snap. –Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis

Odds are the Patriots are going to lose one of their final six games this season.

As Rich Hill pointed out on Pats Pulpit, the Patriots have only gone undefeated in the AFC East twice under Bill Belichick — in 2007 and 2012. But with five of their six showdowns for 2017 coming during the final stretch of the season, one might figure the annual trouble in Miami on a Monday night might occur. Or the occasional, confounding decisions to be made against the Jets because….well, why did he elect to kick off in overtime anyway?

Fourteen-and-two, with a sweep of the pathetic division and a win in Pittsburgh against the 8-2 Steelers seems logical. But the Patriots usually have a hiccup every year around this time. Remember surrendering home-field advantage two seasons ago, leading to another disastrous visit to Denver in the AFC title game?

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More likely it will be 13-3, or even 12-4 by the time the season ends.

So say the odds, at least.

Never tell me the odds.

This week’s picks

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 31, Dolphins 17. “This is close to about as big as NFL point spreads get, but it isn’t Alabama hosting Font of Tears Bible College. This is King Sport, where anybody (except the Browns, of course) can beat anybody. Not saying will. But can. And more so in division rivalries. Both of New England’s 2017 losses have been in not-impenetrable Foxborough, and Tom Brady has been intercepted more times by Miami in his career (21) than anybody else. Pats swept Fins last season, but Miami beat NE at least once each of the three previous years.

Also, Patriots’ pass defense is average, and their run defense might be the worst in the league. The point: Miami, a team that won in Atlanta, is capable of shaking off four consecutive losses with its performance of the year Sunday. And that is whether Jay Cutler (concussion protocol) starts or whether Matt Moore does. This belief is why I like the Dolphins with the points, if not quite outright. I think Miami will show some spine and compete hard Sunday. But there is too much talent shortfall — especially between Brady and Cutler/Moore — to think Miami will win outright at this venue for the first since 2008. The temperature Sunday up there is forecast for the low 30s. So is the Patriots’ point total, alas.”

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Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 33, Dolphins 13. “The Patriots have pretty much locked up the division, and now are playing for a top seed. The Dolphins are in a tailspin and might have to start Matt Moore at quarterback here. The Patriots continue to roll behind Tom Brady. Blowout.”

CBS Sports staff: Seven out of eight pick New England (-16.5 Patriots). Everybody likes the Pats straight-up.

David Steele, Sporting News: Patriots 33, Dolphins 16. “Teams still pile up yards against the Patriots defense (last in total yards), yet in their six straight wins, they haven’t given up more than 17 points in a game. No one knows which Dolphins offense will show up in Foxborough — which quarterback, in particular. Neither Matt Moore nor Jay Cutler appear to stand a chance at putting pressure on Tom Brady to keep up.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 40, Dolphins 14. “You know the Patriots are getting close to can’t-miss Super Bowl favorites when the spreads start ballooning past two touchdowns. Miami is an absolute mess, far removed from the second AFC East playoff team under Adam Gase a season ago. The Dolphins’ defense has numerous holes for Tom Brady to exploit, while New England’s suddenly sound defense will stop whoever is quarterback the other side.”

SB Nation staff: All Pats.

Chris Simms, Bleacher Report: Patriots 35, Dolphins 17. “Let’s be honest, the New England Patriots are going to win this game. I am a little concerned, though, that the Patriots have been on the road for two weeks. They stayed in Colorado for a week, had a long trip to Mexico and then a long trip back home. Bill Belichick referenced this fact in his early-week press conference. Fatigue could be a factor. With all that said, though, this is still the best team in football right now. New England is hot and has fixed its defensive problems, and I have no faith in the Dolphins’ ability to consistently move the ball.”

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Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times: Dolphins (Patriots by 16.5). “Miami should in no way be expected to truly compete in this game, but they get the pick based on a spread that is simply too high for a game that does not involve some sort of personal vendetta.”

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots. “I haaaaate big point spreads. Hate them. But the Patriots are going to beat this garbage Dolphins team by 30.”

Five Thirty Eight: New England with a 90 percent chance of winning.

ESPN staff: All Pats.

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 34, Dolphins 20. “The Dolphins thought they could compete with the Patriots this year. But that was before the Dolphins became largely uncompetitive.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 30, Dolphins 10. “Remember when Jarvis Landry predicted the Dolphins would sweep the Patriots? I think he was wrong about that.”

Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Patriots 42, Dolphins 13. “This AFC East “battle” could turn into garbage quite fast. (Not gonna say hot garbage, as I’ve seen enough Dumpster fire tweets to steer me away from the genre for awhile.) While it’s easy to consider the mismatch to be Brady versus the Miami secondary, Matt Patricia’s defense has been balling since early October. And the Dolphins’ offense has been sucking since early September. The difference can be seen in a stat I developed with the help of @RealJackAndrade: N3P, or net positive play percentage. Tom Brady generates net positive plays (positive plays minus harmful plays) a staggering 39.9 percent of the time, which leads the league. Jay Cutler is way in the back at 28.2. He’s currently ahead of Mitchell Trubisky, Joe Flacco, Mike Glennon, DeShone Kizer and Tom Savage.”

It says here: Patriots 33, Dolphins 17. Three weeks ’til the Steelers.