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Game Preview: Patriots return to AFC East play at Miami

Posted Dec 10, 2013

The New England Patriots return to AFC East play this Sunday when they travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins.

PATRIOTS (10-3) at DOLPHINS (7-6)
Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Sun Life Stadium (75,192)

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The New England Patriots improved to 10-3 with their third straight come-from-behind victory last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. The Patriots rallied for a 27-26 victory after the Browns took a 26-14 fourth-quarter lead with 2:39 remaining. After the Browns extended the lead to 26-14, the Patriots scored two touchdowns in a 30-second span (sandwiched around an onside kick recovery) to take a 27-26 lead on Julian Edelman's 2-yard scoring grab with 1:01 remaining and Danny Amendola's 1-yard scoring catch with 31 seconds left in the game.

The Patriots can clinch their fifth straight AFC East Title and qualify for the playoffs for the 21st time in its 54 year history with a win this week against the Miami Dolphins. It would also be the 15th playoff berth in the 20 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, a dramatic contrast to the six total playoff berths that the team earned in its first 34 years of existence.

The Patriots own the NFL's best December record since 2001 with a 47-6 (.887) record, Bill Belichick has the best December record among NFL head coaches in NFL history at 49-8 (.860) and Tom Brady has the best winning percentage for any quarterback since the 1970 NFL merger with a 43-6 record for a .878 winning percentage.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by CBS and can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle playby- play duties with Phil Simms providing color. The game will be produced by Lance Barrow and directed by Mike Arnold.

NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by Westwood One Sports. Tom McCarthy and Rod Woodson will call the game.

RADIO: 98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 37 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins will square off for the 97th time, including three playoff games, in their 48th year as division foes and for the second of two meetings of the 2013 season. The Patriots extended their streak to seven straight wins over Miami after a 27-17 victory at Gillette Stadium in the first meeting on Oct. 27, 2013. The Patriots have won three straight at Miami.

The Dolphins and Patriots met for the first time in 1966 and began playing twice a year during the regular season in 1967, except in 1982 during the strike year.

The Patriots swept the series in the last three seasons (2010-2012) and will be looking for a fourth straight sweep and their 10th series sweep overall this week.

The Patriots have swept the season series for three straight seasons two times (1986-88) and (2010-12) but have never swept the series for four straight seasons.

The Patriots have won nine of the last 10 games against Miami.

The Patriots have had the upper hand at home against Miami, as they hold a 30-17 record in games played in New England in the regular-season, including a 10-2 record at Gillette Stadium. But the Patriots are only 15-33 all-time in Miami, including two postseason games.

The two have played three times in the postseason with New England holding a 2-1 advantage.

SERIES TRENDS
Miami 50, New England 46 (Including New England 2, Miami 1 in Playoffs)
*-A Miami home game was played in Tampa in 1969

Record in New England, 31-17 (Incl. 1-0 in playoffs)
Record in Foxborough, 29-15 (1-0)
Record in Boston,  2-2
Record in Miami, 15-33 (Incl. 1-1 in playoffs)
Record at Dolphins / Pro Player / Joe Robbie/ Sun Life .... 11-15
Record at Orange Bowl, 3-18 (1-1)
Record in Tampa*, 1-0
Seasonal Sweeps:  Patriots 9, Dolphins 13
Seasonal Splits, 23 (Most recent 2009)
Bill Belichick vs. Miami, 18-11 (18-9 with New England)

PATRIOTS-DOLPHINS QUICK HITS
  • Since Bill Belichick became Patriots head coach in 2000, New England is 18-9 (.667) against the Miami Dolphins.
  • Since 2000, the Patriots are 64-22 (.744) against AFC East opponents. The Patriots are 18-9 against the Dolphins over that span and are 19-9 against the New York Jets and 24-3 against the Buffalo Bills in that time. The Patriots were 3-1 against Indianapolis from 2000 through 2001 when they were in the AFC East.
  • The Patriots have not been swept in their season series with a divisional opponent since 2000, when they lost both games to Miami and also to the New York Jets.
  • Tom Brady owns a 17-6 record when playing against Miami. While he is 11-1 against Miami in home games, including wins in the last seven games, Brady is just 6-5 in games played in Miami.
  • Brady's only home loss to Miami was on Jan. 1, 2006 in the final game of the 2005 season when the Patriots had already locked up the AFC East Title and Brady played in the first quarter before being relieved by backup Matt Cassel.

PASSING PERFORMANCES
Tom Brady is scheduled to start at quarterback against Miami for the 24th time and has compiled a 17-6 record in his previous 23 starts against the Dolphins. Brady is 58-13 in his career as a starter in the regular-season against AFC East opponents, with six of the 13 losses coming to the Dolphins. One of those losses was in the final game of the 2005 season when Brady was pulled after the first quarter.

DIVISIONAL DOMINANCE
The Patriots have the highest winning percentage in division games from November until the end of the season since 2002.


CONNECTIONS

New England Ties
  • Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin is a native of Springfield, Mass., and received his first coaching job as the offensive line coach for Worcester (Mass.) Technical High School from 1986-87. Philbin also served as the offensive coordinator at Northeastern University from 1995-96.
  • Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman is a native of Norwood, Mass., and attended Central Connecticut State in New Britain, Conn. Sherman also spent four years as the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. from 1985-88.
  • Dolphins Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle graduated from the University of Massachusetts and spent nine years at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator.
  • Eight members of the Dolphins staff, including Philbin and Sherman, are New England natives. Seven hail from Massachusetts while one grew up in Connecticut. The other six New Englanders are:
  • Offensive Line Coach Jim Turner: Braintree, Mass. native, Boston College graduate.
  • Wide Receivers Coach Ken O'Keefe: Milford, Conn. native, former Worcester (Mass.) Academy Head Coach.
  • Assistant Director of Pro Scouting Chris Shea: Belmont, Mass. native and Boston College graduate.
  • Director of College Scouting Chris Grier: Holliston, Mass. native and University of Massachusetts graduate.
  • Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Dave Puloka: Arlington, Mass. native and Holy Cross (Worcester, Mass.) graduate.
  • Pro Scout Adam Howe: Raynham, Mass. native and Bridgewater (Mass.) State graduate.

Miami Ties
  • WR Kenbrell Thompkins is a native of Miami, Fla. and attended Miami Northwestern High School, located just 10 miles north of Sun Life Stadium.
  • Patriots DT Vince Wilfork hails from Boynton Beach, Fla., located about 50 miles north of Miami, and was a standout defensive lineman at the University of Miami.

Former Patriots
  • Dolphins Director of College Scouting Chris Grier joined New England as an intern in 1994 and joined the club fulltime the following year, serving as a regional scout for six years until joining the Dolphins in 2000. Grier is a native of Holliston, Mass. and attended the University of Massachusetts, where he played football for two years.
  • Dolphins DT A.J. Francis joined the Patriots at the beginning of the regular season and spent the first 12 weeks on the practice squad before signing with the Dolphins on Nov. 26.

Former Dolphins
  • Patriots Special Teams Coach Scott O'Brien spent two seasons (2005-06) with the Dolphins as coordinator of football operations/assistant to the head coach under Nick Saban.
  • Patriots DL Rob Ninkovich was claimed by the Dolphins on Sept. 7, 2007 and spent two seasons in Miami as a reserve defensive end before signing with the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 3, 2008.

Former NFL Teammates
  • Patriots T Will Svitek was teammates with Dolphins T Tyson Clabo and CB Brent Grimes for three seasons (2009-12) on the Atlanta Falcons. Svitek and Clabo were positional teammates and started 10 games together at left and right tackle during Atlanta's 10-6 playoff season in 2011.
  • Svitek was also teammates with Dolphins CB Dimitri Patterson during the 2007 season on the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Dolphins LB Jason Trusnick joined Patriots DB Marquice Cole and TE Matthew Mulligan during the 2009 season on the New York Jets.
  • Patriots WR Austin Collie was teammates with Dolphins LB Philip Wheeler for three seasons from 2009-11 on the Indianapolis Colts.

Former College Teammates
  • Patriots LB Brandon Spikes was teammates with Dolphins C Mike Pouncey for three seasons (2007-09) and K Caleb Sturgis for two seasons (2008-09) at the University of Florida. The trio won a BCS national championship together in 2008.
  • Spikes was also teammates with Dolphins LB Jelani Jenkins and RB Mike Gillislee during the 2009 season at Florida.
  • Patriots RB Shane Vereen and Dolphins S D.J. Campbell were teammates for three seasons (2008- 2010) at the University of California.
  • Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount was teammates with Dolphins DE Dion Jordan during the 2009 season at the University of Oregon.
  • Dolphins LB Jonathan Freeny teamed up with Patriots DB Devin McCourty for three seasons (2007-09), LB Steve Beauharnais and DB Duron Harmon for two seasons (2009-10), and CB Logan Ryan for one season (2010) at Rutgers University.
  • Patriots RB Brandon Bolden was teammates with Dolphins G John Jerry for two seasons (2008-09) and WR Mike Wallace for one season (2009) at the University of Missisippi.
  • Patriots DL Joe Vellano teamed up on the defensive line with Dolphins DT A.J. Francis for four seasons (2009- 2012) at the University of Maryland.
  • Patriots WR Austin Collie and Dolphins LS John Denney were teammates at BYU during the 2004 season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR AGAINST THE DOLPHINS

BILL BELICHICK
  • Bill Belichick has led the Patriots to 10 division titles and needs one more to tie Don Shula for the most division titles since the merger with 11.
  • Belichick is 49-8 (.860) in December with New England, the best record in December among head coaches with one team in NFL history (min. 25 games). George Seifert is second (27-6, .818).
  • Belichick will be looking for his 11th 11-win season as a head coach, behind only Don Shula (13).

TOM BRADY
  • Tom Brady (3,685) needs 315 yards passing to reach 4,000 yards for the sixth time in his career. He will join Brett Favre (6), Dan Marino (6), Drew Brees (8) and Peyton Manning (13) as the only player to have at least six seasons with 4,000 passing yards.
  • Brady (146) needs one more win to tie Dan Marino (147) for the fourth-most wins in NFL history by a starting quarterback.
  • Brady will be looking for his 11th division championship, the most by any NFL quarterback. Joe Montana and Peyton Manning have nine division titles.
  • Brady to throw for 300 yards for the fourth straight week.
  • Brady (4,116) needs eight pass completions against Miami to pass John Elway (4,123) for fifth place on the NFL's all-time pass completion list.

AARON DOBSON
  • Aaron Dobson (35) needs nine receptions to move past Deion Branch (43 in 2002) for the most receptions by a rookie receiver for the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era. Dobson's 492 yards are the most by a rookie receiver under Belichick. Dobson moved past Branch, who had 489 yards in 2002. Dobson's four touchdowns are tied with fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins for the most by a Patriots rookie receiver under Belichick. Chad Jackson had three touchdowns in 2006.

JULIAN EDELMAN
  • Julian Edelman needs one more punt return for a touchdown to set the team mark with his fourth punt returned for a touchdown. He is tied with Irving Fryar and Troy Brown with three returns for a touchdown.
  • Edelman has 775 yards receiving in 2013 and needs to average 75 yards over the final three games to reach 1,000 yards.

STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI
  • Stephen Gostkowski has scored in a team record 104 consecutive games and needs to score at least one point against Miami to extend that mark.
  • Gostkowski (30) has his second season with 30 or more field goals and needs six more field goals in the final three games to match his franchise record of 36 field goals set in 2008.
  • Gostkowski has made 22 straight fourth quarter field goals.

KENBRELL THOMPKINS
  • Kenbrell Thompkins (466) needs 37 yards to pass Wes Moore for the most receiving yards (502 in 1995) by a Patriots rookie free agent. Thompkins already has the most touchdowns by a Patriots undrafted rookie (4) and needs 12 receptions to tie Moore for the most receptions by a Patriots undrafted rookie receiver.

TEAM
  • The Patriots can earn their fifth straight AFC East Title with a win on Sunday. It would match the five straight the Patriots won from 2003 through 2007 as the longest streak in AFC East history.
  • A Patriots win can extend their NFL-best December record with a win vs. Miami. The Patriots are 47-6 in the month of December since the 2001 season. The next best team is Philadelphia with a 38-17 record.
  • The Patriots have not allowed any fourth quarter points in their last five AFC East games and will look to extend that streak to six against Miami.

PATRIOTS WIN 10 FOR THE 11TH STRAIGHT SEASON
New England has reached at least 10 regular-season wins for 11 consecutive seasons, joining San Francisco (16) as the only teams to accomplish the feat.

BRADY STRONG IN THE SECOND HALF
Tom Brady has thrown for over 200 yards in the second half in the last three games now after throwing for 323 yards in the second half against Cleveland. It is the first time in his career that he has had three straight games with at least 200 yards in the second half. Brady put up 263 yards after halftime against both the Broncos and the Texans in the previous two games. Brady was 25-of-33 for 323 yards and two touchdowns in the second half against the Browns. In his last three games, Brady is 67-for-89 (75%) for 849 yards, 6 TDs and 0 interceptions for a 127.5 rating in the second half.

PRO BOWL BALLOTING

NFL Pro Bowl balloting has begun with fans voting to select players for the 2014 Pro Bowl. Voting is available online and on web-enabled mobile phones by going to NFL.com/probowl/ballot. Balloting will conclude on Thurs., Dec. 26. The Pro Bowl players will be announced in early January on NFL Network's "Total Access". For the first time ever, the Pro Bowl will be "unconferenced." Players will be selected without regard to conference in voting by the fans, coaches and players. Players will later be assigned to team through the first-ever Pro Bowl Draft during the week leading up to the game. The 2014 Pro Bowl will be played on Sun., Jan. 26, 2014 and televised live on NBC at 7:00 p.m. from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

2013 PRO BOWL – PATRIOTS PLAYER RANKINGS
The New England Patriots have nine players in the top 10 in Pro Bowl votes in their respective positions, including K Stephen Gostkowski, who leads the fan voting at his position.
  • QB Tom Brady (4th in Voting – 408,189)
  • TE Rob Gronkowski (7th in Voting – 160,921)
  • G Logan Mankins (7th in Voting – 114,497)
  • DE Chandler Jones (4th in Voting – 225,297)
  • CB Aqib Talib (2nd in Voting – 259,241)
  • S Devin McCourty (10th in Voting – 41,719)
  • K Stephen Gostkowski (1st in Voting – 150,820)
  • P Ryan Allen (9th in Voting – 49,432)
  • PR Julian Edelman (9th in Voting – 37,239)

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