Hackett: It's time for Patriots to (finally) get a blowout in Miami

Jim Hackett
December 06, 2018 - 8:01 am

USA Today Sports

Stop me when you haven’t heard this before ...

"It’s always tough to win in Miami."

Or another of my favorites is ...

“I don’t know what it is in Miami, if it’s the heat or what ... "

Blah blah blah-de-frickin-blah. I’m tired and bored of all the made-up clichés. Here is a simple fact. The Patriots are better than the Dolphins and have been since Dan Marino retired and Don Shula was grazing the sidelines on a motorized cart. So enough already. Just go and win and do so convincingly. Please pretty please with sugar on top.

The Miami Dolphins stand at a very schizophrenic and fortunate 6-6 record beating AFC powerhouses such as the Jets twice, the lowly Bills and even more lowly Raiders along the way. The Patriots shellacked them in Foxboro in September before even coming remotely close to hitting their own stride, something that feels to be coming together just in time for December’s postseason pole positioning. 

The stakes? High.

It’s amazing what one week can do, because now on the heels of the ugly Kareem Hunt situation and his subsequent suspension and release, Kansas City isn’t looking as firm in their previously anointed top seed positioning any longer. Losing Hunt impacts everyone on that Kansas City offense. Superstar speedster Tyreek Hill gave his least productive outing since 2016 on Sunday; catching just one ball on six targets for 13 measly yards in a hotly contested 40-33 win over the aforementioned lowly Oakland Raiders. The 2018 Raiders have proven to be a team that typically gives up during a game’s first opportunity to do so, not a good sign for Kansas City. So what’s new from just one week ago is that your New England Patriots can now be in a position to earn that golden  No. 1 seed and that positioning must start Sunday in, yes, Miami.

With the head to head victory over the Chiefs in hand and a less difficult schedule the rest of the way, the Patriots sights should be firmly on that now very attainable top seed. A week ago, it seemed like a pipe dream. 

Kansas City faces the Ravens, Chargers, Seahawks and Raiders over the next four weeks. Three of those teams are well within the postseason hunt. The Patriots have two home game cream puffs against the Bills and Jets and two ‘supposedly’ difficult challenges on the road the next two weeks in Miami and Pittsburgh. Granted the Steelers on the road despite their overrated coach, loss of their top running back, James Conner and a big blown game this past Sunday versus the Chargers will likely prove to be a challenge. However, the Patriots have always stepped up against Pittsburgh, particularly when traveling to their house so it’s not an insurmountable feat by any stretch. So winning this weekend in Miami, though historically proven to be a chore during the Brady/Belichick era, really shouldn’t be. It can’t be.

Let’s look at some recent history.

Games in Miami standout like a burp in church when reviewing the incomparably successful Brady/Belichick era winning percentages. Together, they are a barely mediocre 7-9 in South Beach, shockingly losing four of their last five games. Now some of those games have been a little whacky. Like at the close of the 2015 season when they shockingly handed the ball off on 16 of their first 18 offensive snaps, literally handing the No. 1 seed to rival Denver in doing so. That 20-10 defeat in South Beach boggles my mind to this day. It was reminiscent of watching the really old NFL Films game tape that pre-dated the forward pass.  

The GOAT himself has struggled in Miami, and in fairness has had some big games down there too. We’ve seen Tom Brady operate between 64-70 percent completion ratios his entire career. In three of the last four games in Miami however, Brady has been well below the 60 percent mark, all loses in 2014, 2016 and 2017. It’s time to buck that trend this season and at this time of year, now it really matters. If the Patriots can earn the number one seed I have little doubt they will travel to their ninth Super Bowl appearance in the Brady/Belichick era, what more motivation do you need than that?

The days of jinxes of playing in Miami from the 1970’s and 80’s are long since over. Bob Griese isn’t walking through that door. Dan Marino isn’t walking through that door and though you can hear Mercury Morris sound off from the nursing home on occasion he’s not walking through that door either. So whether its Don Strock, David Woodley, Chad Pennington, Cleo Lemon, Dante Culpepper or whatever host of losers has had the Patriots number for whatever silly reasons, it’s time to blow past that and put the 2018 Dolphins where they rightfully belong, in the loss column. Put it this way Patriots fans, even Pete Carroll beat the Jimmy Johnson led Dolphins 3 times in 1997.

Time for the Patriots to get over whatever it is that has hindered them in Miami and get onto that No. 1 seed that is suddenly available for the taking. The first step? Win big in Miami on Sunday.

Related: Hannable: Patriots have not set themselves up for life after Gronk