Patriots: 3 things to watch against the Dolphins in Miami
Three things to watch as the Patriots invade Miami Sunday (1 p.m., CBS):
The Patriots currently rank 10th in rush defense (100.8 yards per game), but Miami’s Reggie Bush is not your average running back. Bush is a big, strong back who is both a running and a receiving threat. He hasn’t had the same production this season as last, but he’s still got 662 yards rushing and five touchdowns to go with 189 receiving yards.
“He has good strength for his size,” Bill Belichick said. “I’m not saying he’s a fullback, but he runs with good power for his size. He has great quickness. He’s got great speed. He can run through tackles, he can run around people. It’s similar to [C.J.] Spiller, that type of player: very hard to match up with in coverage.”
Hats and T-shirts game… Sorta
A win on Sunday means the Patriots are AFC East Champions. Is it a surprise? No. The Patriots have had a pretty easy path to the division for the last decade, and this season was certainly no exception. There was a thought that a revamped Buffalo team could give the Pats competition, but they currently sit tied for last in the division at 4-7 with Jets. Nobody expected much from a Miami team with a rookie QB in Ryan Tannehill, either. The bottom line: You probably won’t have to wait in line for an AFC East Champions T-shirt on Monday. It’s just not a big deal around these parts anymore – which is a good thing.
Points when you least expect it
The Patriots have scored 59 and 49 points respectively over their last two games. A big reason for that high number has been the play of New England’s defense and special teams. Against the Colts, Julian Edelman returned a punt for a TD, and Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard returned interceptions for TDs. Against the Jets, it was a crazy second quarter, one that saw two TDs from a Steven Gregory fumble return and Edelman fumble return break the game open. The Patriots lead the NFL with a plus-24 turnover differential, 11 better than the Bears and Giants both tied for second with a plus-13 ratio. That’s a huge reason they’re 11-3 heading into Sunday.
From our friends at Cold, Hard Football Facts:
New England scoring machine
The Patriots scored 108 points in 103 hours last week. They beat the Colts that Sunday, then embarrassed the Jets 49-19 on Thanksgiving. New England (407 points in 11 games) is now on pace to break the all-time NFL scoring record set by the 2007 Patriots.
Top scoring teams in NFL history:
1. 2012 Patriots — 592*
2. 2007 Patriots — 589
3. 2011 Packers — 560
4. 1998 Vikings — 556
5. 2011 Saints — 547
6. 1983 Redskins — 541
7. 2000 Rams — 540
8. 1999 Rams — 526
9. 2004 Colts — 522
10. 2010 Patriots — 518
11. 2011 Patriots — 513