The Week 1 slate once again features a couple of AFC East teams going head to head right out of the gate. For the third consecutive season, the Patriots and Dolphins will square off to begin the year. In 2021, Miami was able to pull off the season sweep of its division foe but missed out on the postseason, finishing 9-8. Meanwhile, New England ended the regular season at 10-7 and reached the postseason, but was soundly eliminated by the Buffalo Bills on Super Wild Card Weekend.
Both of these teams will be vying for a playoff spot and roughly own the same odds. At Caesars Sportsbook, Miami is +130 to reach the postseason, while the Patriots are +148.
Of course, that march begins on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. Below, you’ll find out how to watch this matchup, read a preview of these two clubs, and a betting breakdown to keep you sharp.
How to watch
The Dolphins have gone through quite the overhaul this offseason. After relieving Brian Flores of his head coaching duties, the team hired former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel to lead the franchise. He is expected to bring a similar Kyle Shanahan-style offense to Miami, which should help Tua Tagovailoa as he enters Year 3.
On top of that, the team went on a free agent spending spree, inking offensive tackle Terron Armstead, running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. to deals. They also franchised tight end Mike Gesicki and pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire star wideout Tyreek Hill to pair with second-year pass catcher Jaylen Waddle. All of those weapons now set up a make-or-break year for Tagovailoa to show the franchise whether or not he can be a true franchise signal-caller.
As for the Patriots, arguably the biggest change for the team is the departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who accepted the head coaching position for the Las Vegas Raiders. In his place, Bill Belichick has elected to not name an OC in title, but from what we saw over the summer the responsibilities will be placed on Matt Patricia’s shoulders. Joe Judge will work with the quarterbacks and Belichick will oversee the offensive operation. In the preseason, this “streamlined” offense has gone through some bumps and has looked a bit clunky, so it’ll be interesting to see how this new masthead works as it moves into the regular season.
As for the man tasked with actually running the offense, Mac Jones is entering Year 2 of his career after a productive rookie campaign. He’ll now have a deeper wide receiver group headlined by DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. The backfield combination of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson is also expected to be heavily leaned on.
Defensively, outside corner is an area to keep an eye on as the team did lose All-Pro corner J.C. Jackson in free agency. Jalen Mills is expected to hold one of the starting spots and the other could be Jonathan Jones. Rookie Jack Jones could also be a factor here as well.
The line originally opened at Dolphins -3 when the schedule was released back in the spring and has largely held. It did dip down a half-point to -2.5 in the dog days of the summer but has more recently seen Miami’s advantage jump higher to -3.5, which could be due to concerns surrounding New England’s offense.
The pick: Dolphins -3.5. Miami Gardens has been a house of horrors for the Patriots in recent years. They are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games at Hard Rock Stadium and this Dolphins team is a more explosive group than what New England is bringing to the table. The lack of depth at outside corner could mean that Hill and Waddle could turn this game into a track meet in favor of Miami.
At the opening, this total stood at 44.5 and climbed consistently throughout the summer until it reached a peak of 47 on Aug. 31. From there, it began to creep down a bit and has jockeyed between 46 and 46.5.
The pick: Under 46.5. Slight lean here. The Patriots’ offense doesn’t look like it’s ready to go. From the offensive play-calling to their issues protecting Jones in the preseason, it’s hard to envision New England piling up the points. While Miami has weapons to blow this game open, McDaniel will balance things out with the running game, which could cap their scoring ceiling.
- Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over -104, Under -131)
- Passing yards: 231.5 (Over -117, Under -117)
- Rushing yards: 8.5 (Over -103, Under -133)
- Passing attempts: 30.5 (Over -137, Under +100)
- Longest pass completion: 35.5 (Over +104, Under -142)
- Completions: 20.5 (Over -123, Under -111)
- Interceptions: 0.5 (Over -115, Under -119)
Jones went over this passing yards total in seven of his 17 games played during the regular season last year. He also went over this passing attempts total eight times. That would be a way to lean, especially if you believe the Patriots will be trailing in this game, which would suggest more pass attempts for Jones. He also threw at least one interception in nine games in 2021, which is a top bet here.
- Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over -111, Under -123)
- Passing yards: 230.5 (Over -103, Under -133)
- Rushing yards: 9.5 (Over -111, Under -123)
- Passing attempts: 31.5 (Over -121, Under -113)
- Longest pass completion: 34.5 (Over -123, Under -111)
- Completions: 22.5 (Over +102, Under -139)
- Interceptions: 0.5 (Over +104, Under -142)
Tagovailoa may not have a history of piling up a ton of air yards, but the ability of both Hill and Waddle to either break open deep or create chunk plays on YAC makes the Over 34.5 longest pass completion prop enticing, especially when the Patriots have questions at outside corner. Tagovailoa threw multiple touchdowns in just five of his 13 games played last season and ran over this rushing yards total five times.
Player props to consider
Tyreek Hill total receiving yards: Over 63.5 (+100). Hill has historically played the Patriots extremely well, albeit with Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback. In four regular-season games against them, he’s averaging 100.3 receiving yards per game. Miami will likely look to get him involved early and often and his top-end speed will likely be too much for New England’s corner to handle, so getting this a plus-money does present good value.
Chase Edmonds total receiving yards: Over 16.5 (-115). Edmonds had been listed on the injury report with a groin injury but appears to be good to go for Sunday and should be the top back in McDaniel’s backfield. Last year, 49ers backs were targeted on average 5.8 times per game. If McDaniel brings that over to this Miami offense, Edmonds — who averages 7.2 yards per reception — should see plenty of volume to go over here.