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27
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Miami 3 7 7 10 27
New England 0 10 7 7 24
24
10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET18:00 GMT2:00 11:00 AM MST1:00 PM EST12:00 PM CT22:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00 , December 29, 2019
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts  Weather: 43°, Partly Cloudy  Attendance: 65,878

Dolphins-Patriots Preview

According to STATS
According to STATS

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

  1. The Patriots have won 10 straight home games against the Dolphins, their third-longest home winning streak all-time against a single opponent. They won 13 straight home games against the Bills from 2001-13 and have an active 11-game streak against the Jets.
  2. New England will be trying to earn a first-round bye for the 10th consecutive season. Since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, no other team has earned a first-round bye in more than four straight seasons.
  3. The Pats rank first in the NFL in fewest passing touchdowns allowed (12) as well as fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (six, tied with Steelers). The last team to allow both the fewest rushing TDs and the fewest passing TDs in the NFL in a season was the 1994 Steelers.
  4. Tom Brady has 3836 passing yards this season. If he can reach 4000 passing yards, it would be the third time he has thrown for 4000 yards in a season at age 40 or older. No other QB all-time has even had one season with 4000+ passing yards at 40 or older (counting only games after turning 40).
  5. The Dolphins allowed at least 30 points in a game for the 10th time this season last week. That's tied for the second-most such games in a season in NFL history, behind only the 2008 Lions (11).
  6. Ryan Fitzpatrick currently leads the Dolphins with 228 rushing yards this season. Since the 16-game schedule began in 1978, no team has finished a 16-game season without a player having at least 300 rushing yards (the fewest by a team leader in a 16-game season is 311 by Michael Haddix of the 1990 Packers).
Team Comparison

Miami
 
New England
18.6 Points 26.4
251.8 Pass Yds 262.1
72.9 Rush Yds 104.5
14 Takeaways 36
(AP Photo/Frank Victores, File)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) That the New England Patriots actually have something to play for in their regular-season finale against Miami is a bit of a surprise.

When the defending Super Bowl champions opened with eight straight victories, thoughts turned to the possibility of another 16-0 regular season. A loss to Baltimore in Week 9 ended that and effectively cost New England the chance at the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Patriots clinched a playoff berth in Week 15 and the division in Week 16, but they could need a victory over the Dolphins to earn a first-round bye.

"This is December football. December football in New England is fun and important," tight end Ben Watson said on Thursday. "From here on in, they're all playoff games. From here on in, they all have implications. Obviously, once next month gets here, you end up going home if you don't win."

The Patriots (12-3) would clinch the No. 2 seed with a victory or a Chiefs loss or tie; Kansas City plays the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, also at 1 p.m. That means the Patriots can't take the last week of the season to rest up or heal up for the playoffs.

Still, with a victory over the overmatched Dolphins (4-11), they would advance to the divisional round. In the New England locker room, that's gives the game a postseason feel.

"That's it, it's playoff time now," linebacker Elandon Roberts said. "If you win this game, you know what's in front of you. If you lose, you know what you've got to do, too. It's do or die. Period."

It would be New England's 10th straight first-round bye, and their 14th of the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era.

GROUND UP

The running game has helped the Patriots get back on track after back-to-back losses at the start of December.

After gaining a season-high 175 yards on the ground against Cincinnati, New England put up 143 in a balanced attack against the playoff-bound Bills. Sony Michel ran for 96 yards in the game, just missing becoming the Patriots' first 100-yard rusher this season.

HISTORY

The Patriots beat the Dolphins 43-0 on Sept. 15, snapping a two-game losing streak in Miami. It was New England's biggest shutout in the rivalry, and second to the undefeated 1972 Dolphins' 52-0 victory in a series that dates to 1966.

Antonio Brown caught a touchdown pass, but that was the only game he played this season, as he wore out his welcome with the Steelers, Raiders and Patriots.

Brady has never really lost a game to the Dolphins in New England. Miami won in Foxborough in 2005, when he was pulled from a meaningless, season-ending game, and again in 2008, when Brady was injured.

RESURGENCE

For the Dolphins, 2019 has been the year of an offseason roster dismantling, a historically bad start and talk that they were tanking. Through it all, rookie coach Brian Flores kept the locker room together.

"No matter what changes, no matter what happened to our team, he always said, 'We are going to go out there and try to win every game,'" linebacker Jerome Baker said. "He's a class act, and all of us believed it."

A month into the season, the Dolphins had been outscored 163-26, the worst differential after four games since at least 1940. They lost their first seven games but have since gone 4-4 and been outscored 202-232.

"I just think back to when we were 0-7 or whatever it was," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said, "and the spirit at practice - the way the guys were still coming in and working hard and buying in and believing.

"We've only won four games, and it has been a fight. But it has been a lot of fun these last nine or 10 weeks to work with these guys."

GETTING BETTER

At 37, Fitzpatrick seems to be on an upswing. In last week's overtime win against the Bengals, he threw for 419 yards, the highest total in his 155-game career.

"I truly don't care about that," Fitzpatrick said. "I mean, I know it's cool that my kids are excited about their fantasy teams. But winning is what it's all about."

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AP Sports Writer Steven Wine contributed to this story from Miami and AP freelancer Ken Powtak contributed to this story from Foxborough.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Updated December 26, 2019

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