Behold, the power of Tom Brady:
The two-time (and, most believe, soon-to-be three-time) league MVP makes even a late-season Dolphins game a must-see event.
The Patriots — and more specifically, their fans — make their annual migration south Monday, and if you don’t have a ticket yet, you might need to sell a Bitcoin or two to get one.
The secondary market has boomed for a prime-time game that doesn’t seem to have much on the line — at least for Miami.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Dolphins have a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs, per FiveThirtyEight. The Patriots are going to the playoffs and might be the conference’s No. 1 seed.
And yet, demand is huge for Miami’s final prime-time game of the season. The people at the resale website Vivid Seats said, at least as of Wednesday, that Patriots-Dolphins is Week 14’s most expensive ticket, with an average price of $284.
The cheapest get-in on StubHub has been around $100. That’s four times more expensive than the least expensive seat to Dolphins-Buccaneers on Nov. 19.
Granted, this should surprise no one. Brady is the biggest star in Florida, if jersey sales numbers by state from June are an accurate gauge.
And he has done nothing since then to diminish his brand.
Entering Sunday’s action, Brady ranked first league-wide in passing yards (3,632) and passer rating (109.7) and was second in yards-per-pass (8.33) and touchdowns (26).
And, oh yeah, he’s 40. No matter how much water you drink or how many stretches you do — both critical aspects of Brady’s new-age fitness routine — that doesn’t seem fair.
“Tom works hard, and I think Tom’s talked a lot about that and discussed his personal training methods and so forth,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told Miami reporters. “... Tom works hard, he’s here every day and puts an awful lot into his preparation, both physically and mentally for the game. So I think that has a lot to do with it.”
So bad news Dolphins fans: Brady isn’t going anywhere, any time soon. When the Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco midseason, their message was clear: Brady is not contemplating retirement.
And why would he? He’s at the top of his game, and the gap between the Patriots and the rest of the AFC East has only widened this year.
How to stop him? Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh suggested making him mad.
“My job is to p--- him off and have him yelling at his offensive linemen for not blocking me, his coach and everybody on the sideline,” Suh said. “That’s my job.”
The problem: Miami did that two weeks ago, hitting Brady an absurd eight times and still lost by three scores.
Monday will be Brady’s 31st career start against the Dolphins, and while his stats in those games are great — 56 touchdowns, 22 interceptions on 64.3 completions — he is somehow getting better with age.
His passer rating has been over 110 in three of his past four meetings with Miami, and in the Adam Gase era, he has completed 70 percent of his passes, has seven touchdowns to one interception and a passer rating of 126.6.
That’s not Hall of Fame stuff. That’s best-ever stuff.
“I’ll take a victory,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke said, when asked how he would know he has done a good job against Brady. “That would be enough for me. Look, he’s a great quarterback and one of the greatest of all time. He’s going to make his plays. I don’t think anyone in the building expects him to go 0-for-25 with seven picks.
“He’s going to make some plays. We measure everything by wins and losses. That’s how we’re judged. That’s how we should be judged. If we make enough plays on him to win the game. …Obviously, if he goes 30 for 31 with eight touchdowns, we’re probably not going to win the game. Whatever measure of success leads to us getting stops, getting off the field and trying to limit his success as much as possible. … A win is a win. We’ll take it however it comes.”