New England Patriots
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
Patriots ready for another clinching party
The time has come for the New England Patriots to clinch another AFC East title. Every year in New England, there is Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Patriots clinch the AFC East, and then Christmas. If the Patriots win Sunday they clinch their 10th consecutive AFC East title and their 16th in 18 years.
The last time the Buffalo Bills won the AFC East was 1995, the New York Jets 2002 and the Miami Dolphins 2008. Sharing the love in the division has not been a strong suit of the Patriots in recent times. The Patriots, though, have struggled in Miami in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era with a 1-4 record in their last five meetings. The Patriots lost last year to Miami in quarterback Jay Cutler's final win and it was their last loss until losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.
The Patriots also lost to Miami at the end of the 2015 season when they needed to win to clinch the No. 1 seed so they didn't have to go to Denver. The loss likely cost them another Super Bowl appearance.
The Dolphins have played well at home this season with a 5-1 record, the opposite of their 1-5 record. The Patriots are the better team, but the Dolphins likely don't want to see the Patriots celebrate another AFC East title in Miami.
Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said Wednesday this game does not have extra significance, but if the Dolphins could win a division game and stop the Patriots party for another week that would make him happy. The Patriots, who have a 3-3 road record this season, must start fast because they are not a team that has shown the capability to come from behind on the road. As for the difference between home and road performances of the Dolphins, "it's two totally different teams," safety Patrick Chung said.
SERIES HISTORY: 104th regular-season meeting, Dolphins lead series, 53-50. The last time these two teams played was in September when the Patriots won 38-7.