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

The Patriots are underdogs for their regular season opener - and the experts view them that way, too.

Mac Jones and the Patriots lost both games against the Dolphins last season. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Not sure if you’re aware, but the New England Patriots no longer have an offensive coordinator.

OK, so Matt Patricia, Joe Judge, and, for all we know, the Ghost of Dick Coury might be in the driver’s seat by the time the season gets started Sunday in Miami. But gauging on how the local media has reacted to head coach Bill Belichick’s construction of his coaching staff, you might as well believe that Rich Kotite will be calling the plays.

It was a brutal offseason for Patriots faithful, the sort of constant onslaught that Belichick has silenced in the past by coaching his team above its playing level. Ignore the noise and all.

But, what if the noise is right?


A playoff team only a year ago behind rookie quarterback Mac Jones, looking at the 2022 Patriots with rose-colored spectacles, you would be forgiven for the thought that they might be even better. Jones has a season under his belt, Jonnu Smith is bound to finally grasp the offense (or the new one, or, whatever), the running game has a pretty solid attack between Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, and Belichick is still Belichick. Right?

Then again, there’s the questionable secondary and the debate as to just how “elite” Jones can become, not to mention the loaded division that the AFC East has become. The Bills are darlings of the preseason (and after their demolition of the defending Super Bowl champs Thursday night, it’s difficult to argue). The Dolphins are probably right behind them, albeit with a shade more trepidation.

Many figure the Patriots to be an average, middle-of-the-pack squad. Maybe. But we’ve seen this script before.

The 2022 Patriots, despite what you may have heard, will not be a disaster.

Will they be any good though? That one is tougher to figure.

This week’s predictions:

Globe staff: Four of six take the Pats (+3.5).

Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub: Miami (-3.5). “Now that Buffalo has passed the Patriots in the division, here’s the question: has Miami zipped by as well? The Dolphins have new weapons, a new coach and a new offensive scheme. The Pats have … um … what, exactly? Remember to keep telling yourself that September is an extension of the preseason.”


Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Dolphins 24, Patriots 19. “The Patriots are in an unusual situation as a road dog here. They are coming off an unsettled preseason, while Miami is coming off a preseason filled with Tua Tagovailoa hype. He has a lot of weapons and did look good, which makes this a big game for him. I think Mike McDaniel will get the ball out quick to his playmakers and cause issues for a defense that isn’t as talented as years past. The Dolphins have defeated the Patriots three straight times. Make it four.”

John Breech, CBS Sports: Patriots 20, Dolphins 17. “Now that I’ve second-guessed everything Belichick is doing this offseason from his coaching decisions to his travel plans, there’s a 100% chance it will blow up in my face if I pick against him, so I’m not going to pick against him. I think the Dolphins offense will eventually be good, but I think it struggles in Mike McDaniels’ first game as head coach.”

ESPN staff: Six of nine pick the Dolphins.

USA Today staff: Four of seven like Miami (-3.5).

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Miami (-3.5). “There’s reason enough to like the Dolphins over the Patriots on paper. Add in the insane voodoo that Miami has over Bill Belichick’s team for whatever reason (the Patriots are 2-7 in Miami since 2013) and there’s not too much to think about. Sure, this game features one of the largest disparities in head coaching wins in the history of the league … but at least the coaches coaching offense in Miami have spent the bulk of their careers coaching offense. That’s a factor right there.”


MMQB staff: Four of five pick Miami.

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Miami (-3.5). “Eagles media got a close look at the Dolphins for one day this summer, and Miami was impressive. They have elite speed on offense and some pass-rushing juice with star power on the back end on defense. Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t have a great arm, but he throws with anticipation, touch, and accuracy. It’s also going to be hot af on Sunday in Miami. They’re used to that. The Patri*ts are not.”

Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Patriots (+3.5). “Hear that drumbeat? That’s the steady sound of negative stories about the Patriots. I’ve added to it. Maybe the Dolphins are going to be a fantastic, dynamic offense. But it’s still Bill Belichick scheming against Tua Tagovailoa and Dolphins rookie head coach Mike McDaniel in his first game. Belichick has made plenty of preseason overreactions look dumb.”

David Hill, New York Times: Patriots (+3.5). “The Dolphins are favored against the Patriots for the first time since 2013. A big factor: Miami’s expectations for Tyreek Hill, whom the team added this off-season in a deal that made him the N.F.L.’s highest-paid receiver. The markets are heavily behind Miami, but Bill Belichick is still the N.F.L.’s Emperor Palpatine.”

Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer: Patriots (+3.5). “I think these are two evenly matched teams. I don’t have either in the playoffs. The Patriots go 9-8, the Dolphins go 8-9. I see a field goal game here.”


Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Dolphins 24, Patriots 20. “The Patriots lost some offensive mojo when Josh McDaniels left for the Raiders. The Dolphins gained plenty by hiring Mike McDaniel and adding Tyreek Hill, Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, Chase Edmonds and Cedrick Wilson. Bill Belichick’s defense also took hits in losing long-time leader Dont’a Hightower and top playmaker J.C. Jackson. New England will try to win more battles of attrition with the defense and running game, but history says it doesn’t fare well in Miami, with the early-season heat as an added factor. Tua Tagovailoa gets off to a good start outdueling Alabama successor Mac Jones.”

Bill Bender, Sporting News: Patriots 24, Dolphins 20. “It’s the battle of the Alabama QBs. Tua Tagovailoa has a pair of speedy receivers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and the Patriots enter their second year with Mac Jones. The Patriots have lost four of their last five in Miami, and there is a lot of uncertainty around the offense. That’s why this is the upset nobody sees coming in Week 1. Well, Bill Belichick does.”

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Dolphins 27, Patriots 20. “The Patriots struggle in Miami when they have the better team. How will they do when they don’t?”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 16, Dolphins 13. “I’m not as sold on the Dolphins’ new-look offense as some are, and I think Bill Belichick is going to have some defensive wrinkles in store that help the Patriots win a low-scoring game.”


FiveThirtyEight: Dolphins, 58 percent (-2.5)

Gregg Rosenthal, Dolphins 24, Patriots 17. “Both Mike McDaniel and Matt Patricia have attempted to install similar offensive schemes this offseason. One man grew up in the system and added Tyreek Hill and Raheem Mostert to an offensive group whose team speed rivals any in football. The other man is Matt Patricia, who added DeVante Parker, a player the Dolphins were happy to give up. This is going to take Mac Jones some time.”

NFL Pickwatch: 70 percent Dolphins (-175)

It says here: Patriots 20, Dolphins 16. Here’s betting Mike McDaniel wants to prove to the football world how smart he is. Brandon Staley on Line One.


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