FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots have history and a favorable schedule on their side as they steam toward gaining home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
New England hosts Miami this week, visits the New York Jets and then wraps up the regular season with a home game against the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots have been strong in December behind coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
Including the win Sunday at San Diego, the Patriots are 52-9 in December under Belichick, including 50 wins under Brady.
A win this week over the Dolphins would clinch the AFC East and potentially avenge a loss in their opener at Miami.
Belichick said Tuesday he won’t waste a lot of time talking to his team about the division.
“It’s what the standings are. So, we’ll probably cover that in about 15 seconds and move on to Miami,” he said. “That’s what we need to talk about.”
After losing to Miami in the opener, the Patriots went on to start 2-2, sparking mumbles that the team and its coach were over the hill.
New England has gone 8-1 since.
“We need to talk about how to play offense, defense and special teams against the Dolphins a lot better than we did the last time we played them, which wouldn’t take much,” Belichick said. “That’s what we’ll be talking about this week: what to do and how to do it.”
At Miami, the Patriots gained only 67 yards in the second half with five first downs. Brady lost two fumbles.
“We really put ourselves behind the eight ball with some of those things,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.