By Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff

A disastrous loss to the hated New York Jets, then followed by a less-then-stellar victory against the lowly Buffalo Bills, has left Patriots fans scratching their heads. So far, all the preseason talking points are playing out just as we had feared: The offense is phenomenal but the secondary, while talented, clearly needs more seasoning and there is no real pass rush to speak of.

There has, however, always been a second part to these talking points, which was that come week eight or nine the young Patriots team will gel and mature to the point where they can win on the road against formidable opponents. Since this season’s roadmap has so far fallen into place, Patriots fans can hold out hope especially if there is a win against Miami in store. In order for that to happen, look for the Patriots to get the upper hand in these 5 matchups:

Not Allowing TD Celebrations From Marshall Is Key For Patriots

1. Brandon Marshall vs. Patriots Cornerbacks

Brandon Marshall is one of best receivers in the game, he is big, fast, runs great routes and has soft hands and is sure to dominate any corner that the Patriots throw at him. Surely New England will compensate with Safety help over the top. The hope is that the young defense can slow Marshall on key third down conversions, enough to stall Miami drives and hand the ball back over to the Patriots.

2. Miami Wildcat vs. Patriots Linebackers

Miami is considered the best in the business at the Wildcat, and two years ago infamously shredded the Patriots defense at Gillette causing fans to boo the likes of Bruschi, Seymour and Vrabel. These days, New England should be much better prepared; it’s now just a matter of execution.

3. Gronkowski and Hernandez vs. Miami Secondary

Another week has gone by, and the young pups are still producing and exciting Patriot Nation every time they touch the ball. It will be great to see them continue wrecking havoc in the secondary and breaking linebacker’s ankles.

4. Randy Moss vs. Vontae Davis

Despite his off the field gripes about not feeling loved, Randy Moss is having a pretty stellar season so far. The knock on Randy is that when the going gets tough, Randy starts to shut it down. He responded to critics by busting out of Revis Island with a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab. This week, Randy will face Vontae Davis, a good young corner and it is crucial to see that Randy takes the same serious approach to the game as he did against the Jets.

5. BenJarvis Green-Ellis vs. Miami Linebackers

Radio callers have been clamoring for the Law Firm ever since his first preseason game. Now it looks like they will get their wish.