Going into Saturday’s game with the Dolphins the Patriots are currently in first place in the entire AFC and control their own destiny to getting home field throughout the entire postseason. The Dolphins enter the game with a 5-9 record and just fired their coach Tony Sparano two weeks ago. This might be a game that the Patriots might overlook.
With the Texans losing to the Colts Thursday night the Patriots can now clinch a first-round bye with a win or tie against the Dolphins and clinch home field through the AFC playoffs with a win and both a Ravens and Steelers lost. With all the other top AFC teams losing of late — Texans, Ravens and Steelers all have lost their last game, the Patriots do not want to be part of that group. Win on the field, lock up a first round bye, win next week against the Bills and the AFC champion has to go through Gillette.
The last time the Dolphins played the Patriots was week 1 when the Dolphins put up 622 yards on the Patriots defense. They are a different team now, with a different quarterback, but the Patriots will still have that performance on their mind. Running back Reggie Bush will be the featured guy in the Dolphins offense and the Patriots have struggled against the run of late, which was something that was once thought of as their strength. After a terrible first quarter last week in Denver, allowing the most yards of any quarter in the Belichick era the Patriots will obviously have that on their mind as well.
Hopefully they can get back safety Patrick Chung and linebacker Brandon Spikes, although it doesn’t look good for Spikes as he didn’t practice all week. These players will be key to the Patriots defense in the playoffs and it’s important for them to come back now and get a few games under their belt so they aren’t thrown right into the fire in the playoffs. It also gives them a chance to get back into the flow of things with their teammates.
Saturday’s game is not just a game with a 5-9 team, there are plenty of other story lines that should not be overlooked.