BOSTON (CBS) — We’ve reached the end of 2016, and more importantly, the end of the regular season.
The Patriots travel to Miami for their final game before heading into their postseason bye, but there is still plenty to play for in the regular season finale. With a win, the Patriots clinch home field advantage and the No. 1 seed in the AFC (they can still do so with an Oakland loss to Denver).
Miami also has a lot to play for, looking to improve their postseason seeding with their fourth straight victory.
Here’s how the CBS Boston sports teams see Sunday afternoon in South Beach playing out:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
This game is personal for three reasons.
1. Home field advantage in the playoffs is on the line.
2. The Patriots haven’t forgotten what happened a year ago when they got stung in Miami, and it cost them home field advantage.
3. The Pats want to keep their perfect road record intact.
Patriots 28, Dolphins 17
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
The Patriots and Miami don’t go together very well. The Pats are just 11-18 in Miami, dropping their last three trips to Hard Rock Stadium, and Tom Brady is 6-8 in his visits to South Beach. And by the way, the Dolphins are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and have won nine of their last 10.
With that said, Tom Brady and the Patriots are playing well. They’re focused and ready for any challenge. The No. 1 seed is there for the taking. It may not be easy, but this team has met every challenge in 2016, and will be eager to ring in 2017 with a win.
And, please, please, please stop with “resting” Brady and the starters. Hurt? Different story.
Patriots 27, Dolphins 14
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
This game is a bit of a conundrum. The Pats would love to be the top seed, but they also want to rest players.
Miami wants to play Houston instead of Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round, but they also want to make sure running back Jay Ajayi is good to go for the postseason.
Not to mention, if Miami wins their first playoff game they may play the Pats the following week. So how much does each team want to show in Week 17?
Whether Brady plays a full game or not the Pats should win. These guys understand how last year could have cost them a Super Bowl appearance. The Pats need to take care of home field and worry about everything afterwards.
Patriots 24, Dolphins 6
Adam Kaufman, WBZ NewsRadio 1030/98.5 The Sports Hub
The Patriots opened at 9.5-point favorites… on the road… in a place they’ve lost their last three trips… where Tom Brady’s a lifetime 6-8… against a team that’s won nine of 10 and also heading to the playoffs.
Yes, the Pats should win this game, but I can’t imagine it will be a complete walk in the park. New England needs a win or an Oakland loss to Denver to lock up the top seed in the AFC and Bill Belichick indicated he has no intention of taking his foot off the gas with regard to inactives.
But Miami also has something to play for – a jump to the fifth seed.
Still, if this one gets out of hand by halftime, Brady and other key regulars will take a seat on the sidelines for the duration and it’ll fall upon the defense to hang on.
Oh, if you’re worried about Jay Ajayi… don’t be. The Patriots are allowing 90 yards a game on the ground, third-fewest in the NFL, and just 3.9 yards per carry, tied for seventh. The Fins have a top-10 rushing attack and Ajayi’s had a fine year with 1,213 yards and eight touchdowns, but 642 of those yards came over a three-game span.
Patriots 24, Dolphins 14
Mike “Sarge” Riley, WBZ NewsRadio 1030/98.5 The Sports Hub
The message is simple for the Patriots: Do your job. I think this will be a hard-fought game, especially in the first half. But when Tom Brady and the offense gets out to a comfortable lead, it’s time to rest the starters and throw in Jimmy G. under center.
The Pats will get the win and home field throughout the playoffs.
Patriots 27, Dolphins 16
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Dolphins showdown at 1 p.m. on WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins on 98.5FM with Patriots Preview at 10 a.m., and on WBZ-TV at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay. After the game, catch three full hours of postgame analysis on the Hub and see Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s press conferences live on Patriots 5th Quarter over on myTV38!