Patriots to make sure of top seeding
New England at Miami
In a week where a majority of NFL matches involve a certain amount of guesswork about teams’ motivations, New England’s AFC East derby in Miami is a rarity with both sides having an incentive to thrive.
The Patriots, 15-8 favourites for the Super Bowl, can clinch the top seed in the AFC with a victory (or if Oakland lose to Denver, although that game kicks off after this one finishes).
Miami have already secured second place in the division and a playoff berth, but they can avoid a nasty wildcard trip to Pittsburgh and enjoy a preferable draw against Houston if they upset the odds.
New England won their home game against the Dolphins in Week Two by seven points without star quarterback Tom Brady (suspended) and this time Miami have their back-up passer on display with Matt Moore continuing to fill in for the injured Ryan Tannehill.
The Patriots’ defence has improved since that first meeting, while injuries have hit Miami’s rearguard, who struggled in the narrow win over Buffalo last week.
The Patriots should make it 8-0 on the road this season with a clear victory. Punters who fear they will pull their stars late on can back the Pats -6 on the first half handicap.
New England -8.5
1pt 5-6 Paddy Power
TV Sky Sports 2 Starts 6pm
Venue Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Weather Warm and dry, 26C
Best handicaps New England -8.5; Miami +10
Points line 44.5-45.5 points
Wide receiver Danny Amendola (ankle) and cornerback Cyrus Jones (knee) are out and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (knee) is doubtful. Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) and wide receiver Matthew Slater (foot) are rated questionable, along with quarterback Tom Brady, but Brady is expected to start.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (knee) is out so Matt Moore starts. Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (neck) is out for the season. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee) and cornerback Byron Maxwell (ankle) are doubtful and running back Jay Ajayi (shoulder), linebacker Spencer Paysinger (knee) and defensive end Mario Williams (ankle) are carrying knocks but could play.
New England have won all seven of their road games this season