This Sunday, the Miami Dolphins have a chance to do something bigger than finishing the first month of their season undefeated. What they can accomplish this weekend is so much larger than being the first-place team in the AFC East in October. What the Fins have a chance to do is something every team in the NFL has been champing at the bit to accomplish for the better part of the past decade.
If Miami beats New England this weekend, the Dolphins might very well end the Patriots. Dynasty over. Adios, Brady-Belichick era. Hello, vast changes in New England. That's what's at stake in Foxboro this weekend when the Dolphins and Patriots face off. You can feel it. It's undeniable. The Dolphins have a chance to double-tap the Patriots zombie.
It might sound absurd to suggest a single loss in September could end a dynasty that had lasted the better part of two decades, but all good things must come to an end, and that final chapter always starts somewhere. It might be wishful thinking to hope a three-game deficit in the AFC East with 12 games remaining is an insurmountable deficit for a team that has proven impossible to kill in worse situations. This feels different, though.
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The Patriots haven't looked as bad as they did in their Monday Night Football loss to the Detriot Lions in years, and this week, they lost a starting running back and linebacker. Neither newly acquired wide receiver Josh Gordon nor fresh-off-suspension Julien Edelman can make up for a terrible defense.
A loss to the Dolphins would pin the Patriots three full games behind the Fins in the AFC East, with Miami holding the tiebreaker. It would leave New England in last place in the AFC East after a month of the season. It would mean the Patriots, barring a complete collapse by a number of AFC teams, can already kiss home-field advantage goodbye in September.
A 1-3 start to the season and a home loss to the Dolphins would undoubtedly stir up some grumblings about how long Brady and Belichick can continue to coexist after a long summer of shade-throwing and obvious turmoil. Tom Brady is 41 years old and, no matter what it seems, cannot play at an All-Pro level forever. He cannot continue to be so good that he covers up the many flaws that exist on the Patriots roster.
The Patriots and Tom Brady cannot be unstoppable forever. This Sunday, the Dolphins can put the first nail in a season that we hope will end New England's reign of tyranny for good.