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Patriots host Miami for shot at AFC East title

This Week: The New England Patriots (8-7) will host the Miami Dolphins (9-6) at Gillette Stadium (68,436) in a Week 17 battle for the division title. The Patriots can repeat as division champions with a victory over the Dolphins and a New York Jets loss to the Green Bay Packers. A division title would assure the Patriots a home playoff game. The Patriots are 4-0 at home in the playoffs since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, including last year's victory over the Oakland Raiders in their divisional playoff game. A Patriots loss, however, would give the Dolphins the division title and eliminate the Patriots from playoff contention. While a victory could propel the Patriots into the playoffs, it would also avenge an Oct. 6 loss in Miami, where the Patriots were dealt a stinging 26-13 loss.

Television: This week's game will be broadcast nationally on CBS (WBZ Channel 4 in Boston). The play-by-play duties will be handled by Greg Gumbel, who will be joined in the booth by Phil Simms. Armen Keteyian will provide sideline reports throughout the game.

Radio: Every Patriots game can be heard in stereo on the Patriots official flagship station WBCN 104.1 FM. Gil Santos, now in his 26th season as the voice of the Patriots, will call the game along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti, who will provide in-depth analysis for his 22nd season. A complete list of the Patriots WBCN Rock Radio Network can be found on pages 462-463 of the 2002 Patriots media guide or at www.patriots.com.

National Radio: This week's game can also be heard nationally on CBS Radio. Harry Kalas and Rick Walker will be calling all the action.

Another December to Remember?: The Patriots have compiled a 7-4 record in the month of December since Bill Belichick assumed the duties as head coach in 2000, including five wins in their last seven games. As the temperatures have cooled in recent years, the Patriots have heated up. Since 1993, New England is 13-4 when it's 36 degrees or colder.

Home Sweet Home: The Patriots have won nine of their last 13 games at home (including preseason and postseason). Foxborough has been a wonderful home to the Patriots since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. The team has compiled a 60-31 (.659) overall record at home during that time span. This week's game against the Dolphins will be the Patriots 92nd consecutive sellout at home and the 192nd consecutive game broadcast locally. The last local blackout was against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 26, 1993.

The Beast of the East: The Patriots have won nine of their last 12 games against the AFC East, including three of five this season. New England has outscored their divisional opponents 139-87 this season. This week's game weighs heavily with playoff implications in a race for the AFC East title, please see the Patriots playoff scenarios box below for a clearer picture of the Patriots playoff scenarios.

Patriots Pro Bowlers: The National Football League announced the naming of five Patriot players to the AFC's 43-man Pro Bowl roster last week. Special teamer Larry Izzo (second selection), cornerback Ty Law (third selection), safety Lawyer Milloy (fourth selection), defensive tackle Richard Seymour (first selection) and kicker Adam Vinatieri (first selection) will be the Patriots representatives in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii on Feb. 3. This season marks the eighth time in franchise history that five or more players were named to the Pro Bowl and it was the first time since 1997 that five players received the honor.

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