The Dolphins special teams need to regroup because they’ve given up a punt-return touchdown and kickoff-return touchdown the past two games. Neither score played a role in a Miami loss because the Dolphins also had a special teams TD against Buffalo and won the Seattle game. But the return teams have shown obvious lapses that need to be corrected against New England. The Patriots have a punt-return TD and kickoff TD this season. Kicker Dan Carpenter is one member of the special teams who has regained his form after struggling terribly early in the season. Carpenter has connected on each of his past nine kicks. New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski has connected on 7 of 10 field-goal attempts of 50 yards or more, so he has range, but he also has missed two of his past three kicks. And those kicks were from 36 yards and 39, respectively. So things might be shaky there. By the way, New England punter Zoltan Mesko was born in Timisoara, Romania. No point. Just mentioning. ADVANTAGE: Even.
The Patriots staff was excellent and got better with the addition of Josh McDaniels guiding the offense and helping Tom Brady. Bill Belichick, obviously, is headed to the Hall of Fame some day but sometimes he outthinks himself (such as when he went for it on fourth-and-1 from inside their own 30 against Indianapolis years ago). Nonetheless, this staff doesn’t mind taking chances on players who don’t bring pristine reputations or attitudes, with Aqib Talib being the most recent example. The Dolphins staff is hard-working, loyal and bright. But they have lots to accomplish before they’re in the same conversation with Belichick. ADVANTAGE: New England.