The New England Patriots can put a stranglehold on the AFC East Sunday as they face the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.
At 8-3 the Patriots can clinch their division for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons, and quarterback Tom Brady can continue to make a case for the league MVP.
Sporting the NFL’s highest scoring offense, New England smashed the New York Jets 49-19 on Thanksgiving, with a 35-point second quarter.
Brady threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Stevan Ridely had 97 yards a score on 21 carries.
The Patriots defense also created five Jet turnovers, including four fumbles, and only allowed New York to convert three of their 10 third downs.
Miami can not only delay New England’s division title, they can also stay afloat in the AFC Wild Card race.
At 5-6, the Dolphins are two games back of the reeling Pittsburgh Steelers, but three of their last five games are against division leaders San Francisco and New England.
Last week, Miami snapped a three-game losing streak when they rallied with 17-point fourth quarter to drop the Seattle Seahawks 24-21. Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas combined for 147 yards and two rushing two touchdowns, while rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill produced his second best passer rating of the season.
Tannehill finished 18-for-26 for 253 yards with one touchdown and one pick, and hit receiver Charles Clay with a 29-yard pass to tie the game at 21 with 5:13 remaining.
Kicker Dan Carpenter would then knock in a 43-yard field goal as time expired for the win.
Miami’s defense also managed to hold the NFL’s third leading rusher in Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch to just 46 yards. However that’s typical for the Dolphins, who are currently seventh in the NFL against the rush, only letting up 96.7 yards.
What could pose a problem Sunday versus New England is Miami’s secondary, ranked 26th in the NFL.
The game begins at 1 p.m. EDT and will be shown by FOX, or watch a live stream online by purchasing NFL Sunday Ticket Max.
Betting Odds: New England is favored by 9 points
Over/Under: 51.5 points
Prediction: Brady and the Patriots are on fire, and while Miami should put up a strong fight, New England will prevail with a big third quarter.
Predicted Score: New England 35, Miami 20