14 Vinny Testaverde*3QB *17Chad Jackson* WR *32Rashad Baker* S *37Rodney Harrison* S *39Laurence Maroney* RB *52Eric Alexander LB 68Ryan O'Callaghan* T *90LeKevin Smith* *DL
The Patriots can clinch the 2006 AFC East championship and a berth in the playoffs with a victory over the Dolphins in Miami this week and a New York Jets loss to the Buffalo Bills at Giants Stadium. In that scenario, the Patriots would have a threegame lead on the Jets with three games to play and New England would be guaranteed to win a tiebreaker with New York by virtue of a better divisional record.
The Patriots have won a franchise-record three straight AFC East titles and have won four of the last five division crowns dating back to 2001. New England has won six division titles in the 12 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 and has led the NFL over that span with 139 total victories, 13 playoff wins, four conference championships and three Super Bowl titles. The Patriots have won nine division crowns in their 46-year history.
DOMINANT IN DECEMBER
When the calendar turns to the 12th month, the New England weather may turn cold, but in recent years the Patriots have remained red hot. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the Patriots have recorded a 20-5 (.800) record in games played in the month of December. Last season, the Patriots won all four of their December games by a combined score of 110-31. New England has won 13 of its last 14 games in the month of December - a streak that dates back to 2002.
The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins will meet for the 83rd time in their history in their 41st year as division foes. The Patriots have won six of the last eight matchups between the teams, including two of the last three games in Miami. New England is 9-3 in its last dozen games against the Dolphins. New England trails in the overall series, 47- 35 including the postseason. The Patriots defeated Miami 20-10 at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 8 and this week will bid for their sixth season sweep of the Dolphins. The Patriots last swept both games from Miami in 2003. The teams have split the season series in each of the last two years. The Patriots will try to win in Miami in back-to-back seasons for the first time since winning four consecutive games there from 1986-88 (three regular-season games and one playoff contest).
- The Patriots have played 40 previous games against the Dolphins in Miami and have only recorded a winning streak of two or more consecutive wins on one occasion, winning four straight games from 1986-88. New England won in Miami last season and will aim for its second road winning streak against the Dolphins this week.
- The Patriots are 2-11 in games played in Miami in the month of December. New England is making just its third December trip to Miami since 1989 and last traveled to South Florida in December during the 2004 season.