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Patriots vs. Dolphins Total Points Best Bet for Week 17

New England Patriots(13-2-0) @ Miami Dolphins(10-5-0)

  • Where: Hard Rock Stadium. Miami, Florida
  • When: January 1, 2017 1:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Patriots -10 (-105) vs. Dolphins +10 (-115)
  • Moneyline: Patriots (-460) vs. Dolphins (+365)
  • Over / Under: Over 43.5 points (-110) vs. Under 43.5 points (-110)

There’s still plenty at stake for the New England Patriots, who can wrap up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they can close their season with a victory over the postseason-bound Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

New England (13-2) is currently the top seed and can still make the road travel through Foxborough with a loss provided Oakland loses at Denver. The Patriots are peaking at the right time and have won six in a row after throttling the New York Jets 41-3 last week. Tom Brady threw three first-half touchdown passes and LeGarrette Blount ran for two scores in the second half as the AFC East champions did not allow a touchdown for the second straight game.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick bristled when asked if he was going to rest some of his key players, so don’t expect his team to simply mail it in and enjoy South Beach. And that is before taking into account New England has lost its last three games at Miami, and that Brady missed New England’s 31-24 victory in Week 2 as he served his “Deflategate” suspension.

Miami (10-5) will be going to the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and first-year coach Adam Game has engineered a remarkable turnaround for a Dolphins team that had not had a winning season since that last postseason appearance. The Dolphins have won three straight and nine of 10 overall after a 34-31 overtime victory at Buffalo last week.

Matt Moore was again effective in his second start since Ryan Tannehill went down with a torn ACL, throwing for 233 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Jay Ajayi’s breakout season continued with 206 yards and a touchdown. Since being inserted into the starting lineup in Week 5, Ajayi has rushed for 1,138 yards and 11 TDs — trailing only Dallas Cowboys star rookie Ezekiel Elliott (1,219).

Brady out to end South Beach blues

Patriots vs. Dolphins Game Total AnalysisFor all of the things Brady has on his first-ballot Hall of Fame resume, one thing he lacks is a winning record at Miami. Despite throwing for 3,494 yards and 26 TDs with 13 interceptions in 14 games, Brady is just 6-8 there. He threw for a career-high six touchdowns there in 2007 but also was picked off a career high-tying four times in 2004. Given he missed the first game between the teams and the chance for a rematch in the divisional playoff round, expect Brady to come out focused to see what Miami’s defense is all about.

Additionally, Blount had one of his best games of the season in the Week 2 win with 123 yards on a season-high 29 carries. He had just 182 yards in his prior four games versus Miami, so it will be interesting to see if that was a one-time performance.

Moore and the Miami game plan

The Dolphins have plenty of motivation to finish fifth in the conference, something they can do with a victory and a loss by the Chiefs at San Diego. That would give them a first-round date against the Houston Texans, whose quarterback situation is unsettled. Otherwise, Miami would open the postseason at Pittsburgh, which would be eager to avenge a 30-15 loss in Florida in Week 6.

But the Dolphins are still trying to refine their offense to Moore’s strengths, something they’ve done well so far as he’s thrown for 469 yards and six TDs in just 48 attempts. This will be Moore’s first game against New England since 2011, when he threw for 281 yards and three TDs as the Patriots rallied for a 27-24 home victory, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Gase closed some of the playbook in anticipation of that possible playoff rematch in two weeks’ time.

Patriots at Dolphins over/under picks

But even with that possibility, I’m betting on over 43.5 points (-110) at the Bovada Sportsbook. The Patriots have been held under 22 points just once in Brady’s 11 games since his suspension, and despite New England’s recent struggles in Miami, these teams have combined to score 43 or more points in six of the last seven games. Neither team is going to pack it in for the playoffs, and while Moore is taking a huge step up in facing a quality defense _ the Patriots have seven interceptions in their last four games _ the confidence of winning his previous two starts on the road bodes well for Miami to turn this into a potential shootout at home.

Chris AltrudaThis article was written by Chris Altruda

Chris Altruda has spent more than two decades as a sportswriter, first for ESPN SportsTicker in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he rose to the level of college sports coordinator and was NCAA Men's Basketball Columnist. From there, he moved onto The Associated Press, where Chris started as an editorial assistant in their MegaSports division in the AP's headquarters in New York City before taking on the role of Scores Manager. He most recently served as an editor for nearly 11 years for STATS' editorial department based in Northbrook, Illinois, writing game previews for all US professional and major college sports as well as the English Premier League and international soccer. Currently a freelancer, Chris is still working the international soccer beat and other assorted projects. A native New Yorker and graduate of Marquette University who still refers to them as the Warriors, Chris is now holding out hope the Jets will reach a Super Bowl in his lifetime since the Cubs proved miracles are possible by winning the 2016 World Series. Chris can be found on Twitter at @AlTruda73

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