BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots can clinch the AFC East on Monday night in Miami with a win over the Dolphins.
They could have clinched on Sunday if old friend Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts could have beaten the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday afternoon, yet in blizzard conditions, the Bills were able to pull off a victory.
Nevertheless, if the Patriots take care of business on Monday night, they will clinch their ninth straight AFC East title and add to their extensive hat and t-shirt collection.
This is the second time in three weeks the Pats and Phins will square off, with the Patriots coming out victorious 35-17 in Foxboro in Week 12. Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns that afternoon, though the Dolphins made life miserable for the quarterback by hitting him eight times. And this time around, Brady won’t have Rob Gronkowski getting open over the middle or in the end zone.
Here’s how the WBZ-TV Sports team sees Monday night’s game playing out:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
No Gronk, no problem. The Patriots’ confidence is sky high. They have no doubt they’ll go to Miami and come back with win No. 11.
The Dolphins should have Jay Cutler back under center, but it won’t matter. The Patriots pass rush is stepping up and Cutler’s head will be on a swivel. Even though these two teams met two weeks ago, Miami is no match for New England.
Patriots 28, Dolphins 14
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
The Patriots have a rare rematch in a three-game span (the first time for Pats since 2000 when they split with Colts; first time for Miami since 2009 when they swept Jets) in a place that always seems to give them trouble. Tom Brady is 14-1 at home against the Dolphins, but just 7-8 in Miami. Subtract Gronk from the equation and it makes Monday night’s matchup even tougher.
The Dolphins were chippy in their 35-17 loss to the Pats at Gillette two weeks ago, and it could get dirty at points on Monday. This is a scary game in many ways for the Pats, so I would use the running game, let the D force some Jay Cutler turnovers, and get out of Southern Florida.
Patriots 24, Dolphins 21
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
Playing a team twice in three weeks would be tough for anyone. Teams can get lazy with their preparation. Lucky for the Pats, Jay Cutler did not play in the first game and he will play this time around.
The Pats had a season-high seven sacks two weeks ago against Miami and they also ran the ball for 196 yards. Don’t expect that to change. The difference is the venue and hopefully the Patriots can get used to the warmer temps. The team practiced inside the bubble this week, and they did it in full pads and sweats and turned up the heat. They’ll probably get in a good run before game time.
No Gronk could be a problem, but Chris Hogan may be back in the mix and that should help.
Big Player Prediction: I’m going out on a limb here and saying Mike Gillislee will play and he’ll be huge in this game.
Patriots 24, Dolphins 14
WBZ-TV will get you ready for Monday night’s tilt starting Sunday morning at 11:30am with Patriots GameDay! After the Pats and Dolphins battle on Monday Night Football, tune in to Patriots 5th Quarter on myTV38!