It's a very real possibility that in two weeks' time we'll be doing this same exercise - previewing a Patriots - Dolphins game. The stakes for a potential Saturday, Jan. 14 showdown at Gillette Stadium (guessing the NFL will want the Pats in that familiar divisional round Saturday night game) will be 500 times higher than this coming Sunday's Week 17 deal, but this weekend's matchup could offer some insight into what we can expect when the NFL playoffs begin.
The Patriots and Dolphins have had the two most successful second halves of the NFL regular season, as the Dolphins are an impressive 9-1 since mid-October, and the Pats are also 9-1 in that stretch. Scheduling has had a lot to do with New England and Miami's success during those runs as the two AFC East squads were playing the likes of the Jets (4-11), Rams (4-11), 49ers (2-13) and Bills (7-8).
The Pats' lone loss during that time was a 31-24 "L" to Seattle on Nov. 13. The Dolphins fell to the Ravens in Baltimore, 38-6, on Dec. 4.
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Miami has just one win over a team headed to the 2016 playoffs his season, as it beat the Steelers, 30-15, at home on Oct. 16. The Dolphins injured Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in that game, as he limped to a 189-yard passing day.
Miami is currently the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff picture, but could jump up to No. 5 this weekend. The Patriots are currently the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but could fall to No. 2.