DOLPHINS (3-3) at PATRIOTS (6-0)
Line: NE by 8.
Cote’s pick: NE, 28-24.
TV: 8:25 p.m. Thursday, CBS/NFL (airing in South Florida).
The revitalized, born-again Dolphins we have seen the past two games have looked good enough to beat anyone, anywhere — and, yeah, that might even include the mighty Patriots in chilly Foxborough. An upset win by Miami on Thursday night would mildly surprise, but certainly not shock. This feels to me like a fierce and great matchup to kick off NFL Week 8. Miami will have a big chance especially if Cameron Wake’s sack party can continue for a third consecutive week and really bother Tom Brady. This game is the ultimate challenge, though, and until the Dolphins prove they can pass a test this difficult — which they haven’t yet — then thinking they will remains risky. The Titans and Texans that Miami dominated are a combined 3-10. The undefeated Pats fronted by Bill Belichick and Brady are a whole different animal. One with claws and fangs. Temperatures expected in the 40s, far more familiar to the home team, only adds to Miami’s task. The palpable lift interim coach Dan Campbell has given the Fins is real; I respect that. But what I respect even more is that “at New England” might be any opponent’s scariest three words. The Pats have won 21 of their past 22 home games. Brady is on an 8-0 run in Thursday starts and is 12-1 against Miami at home in this AFC East rivalry. Ryan Tannehill is 0-3 at Gillette with five picks. Too many trends pointing Pat-ward make an outright upset too tall a call here. The point spread appears a shade fat, though. I trust the Dolphins’ improvement enough to see this one TV-pleasing close.