With a win or a tie today the New England Patriots will win their 6th straight AFC East Championship. While that is a good enough reason for this not to be a trap game, here are a few more.
Most obvious is that the Patriots are trying to keep home field advantage and avoid being swept by the 7-6 Dolphins. In their 99th meeting against Miami, the Patriots are looking to take their home winning streak against AFC East opponents to 17 and consecutive seasons without being swept by a conference team to 14.
On a personal level, Stephen Gostkowski will be looking to unseat former kicker Automatic Adam Vinatieri as all-time leading point scorer for the Patriots.
So what do the Patriots need to do to have a convincing win against their rivals from Florida? As usual, the Patriots need to look to run the ball. While the Dolphins have a solid defense, the struggle against the run. Since this is a home game, I have no problem with Brady changing the play at the line if scrimmage if he sees something when they lineup. However, I hope the game plan is to run the ball until they stop us. While I think Garapollo will be a fine quarterback, this is not the time to set up Brady for an injury by trying to protect him in the pocket.
Last week punter Ryan Allen won special teams player of the week honors for his play. While that is a great honor for him, it does mean that the Patriots spent too much time punting the ball away.
This week it would be nice if the offense could keep their short drives to touchdown drives and give the defense a cushion.