Don't expect the Miami Dolphins to take New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton lightly in Sunday's pivotal Week 15 matchup at Hard Rock Stadium.
Newton hasn't played well in recent weeks, though. The veteran QB has thrown for just 272 yards over the last three games combined, and he's tossed three touchdowns with eight interceptions in his last nine games.
The former league MVP also played poorly in the Patriots' loss to the Los Angeles Rams last week. He completed only nine passes for 119 yards with zero touchdowns and an interception in a 24-3 defeat.
Despite these struggles, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores knows Newton is capable of making enough plays to win games.
“I think he’s a very good player in this league," Flores said on a media conference call Wednesday. "I think he does a really good job extending plays. I think his ability to scramble is something that you always have to take into consideration on every snap. I think he’s a leader. I think he’s a problem, so we’ve got to do a good job from a pass rush standpoint, try to keep him in the pocket, not let him extend plays and allow his receivers more time to get open.
"Good player, good team, good run game, good defense, good special teams. We’re going to have to play well this week.”
Newton has already beaten the Dolphins once this season. He completed 15 of 19 passes for 119 yards and also ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 1 victory over Miami at Gillette Stadium.
The Dolphins defense has improved quite a bit since the season opener. Miami enters Week 15 allowing the second-fewest passing touchdowns, while also ranking No. 2 in interceptions with and No. 3 in opposing QB passer rating.
The Patriots will need a much better passing performance from Newton if they're going to beat the Dolphins on Sunday and keep their very slim playoff hopes alive.