Game info: Patriots vs. Dolphins

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Game info: Patriots vs. Dolphins

GAME TIME: 1 p.m. EST

TV NETWORK: CBS

TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Dolphins lead, 50-43

LAST MEETING: Patriots 27, Dolphins 24 on Dec. 24, 2011 at Gillette Stadium

The Patriots will clinch their fourth consecutive AFC East title with a victory. The Pats have won 9 of the last 11 AFC East championships (in the other two seasons, they finished tied for first but lost on tie-breakers) and 14 division titles overall.

If the Patriots win, they will earn their 12th straight winning season. Only the 49ers (1983-98) and Cowboys (1970-85), with 16 straight winning seasons, have had longer stretches than 11. New England enters this week tied with the Raiders (1970-80) for the third-longest streak in NFL history.

The Patriots are an NFL-best 41-5 in the month of the December since 2001.

Bill Belichick is 43-7 (.860) in December with the Patriots, the best record in December among head coaches with one team in NFL history (minimum 25 games). George Seifert (San Francisco) is second (27-6, .818).

Since the 2010 season, the Patriots are 19-0 in the second half. In both 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were 8-0 in the second half of the season. Their last loss was in the 2009 season-finale at Houston, a 34-27 loss, on Jan. 3, 2010.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Bill Belichick (200) needs one more win to tie Dan Reeves as the seventh-winningest NFL coach of all time.

With one touchdown pass against the Dolphins, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 44 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and continue his third-longest streak all time, behind Drew Brees (54) and Johnny Unitas (47).

Brady has 52 career 300-yard games in the regular season. He needs one more to break a tie with Kurt Warner for fifth place all time.

Brady (3,671) needs 16 completions to move past Fran Tarkenton (3,686) into ninth place on the NFLs all-time completion list. Vinny Testaverde is in eighth place with 3,787 completions.

Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10 from 50 or more yards) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history. Gostkowski has two 50-yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50-yard field goals in a single season.

Jerod Mayo needs to have a 10-plus tackle game against the Dolphins for his 10th game in 2012 and his sixth straight game with 10 or more tackles.

Rob Ninkovich has a team-leading five forced fumbles, tying Mike Vrabel (2007) for the most forced fumbles for a Patriots player within the last 20 years.

Stevan Ridley (939) needs 61 yards rushing to reach 1,000 yards and give New England its 15th 1,000-yard rushing season. He will be the 12th Patriots player to reach 1,000 yards and first since BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2010.

Wes Welker (16) needs one more 10-plus catch game to break a second place tie with Marvin Harrison (15) and tie Jerry Rice (17) for the most 10-catch games in NFL history.

Welker (961) needs 39 receiving yards for his fifth career 1,000-yard season.

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

FOXBORO – Back in March, Eric Weddle batted his eyes longingly at the Patriots. The two-time All-Pro safety’s time was done with the Chargers and he wanted to spend his NFL autumn with a team that had a chance to win it all. 

He didn’t land in New England, but he didn’t too badly, winding up with the usually competitive Ravens.  

On a Thursday conference call with New England media, Weddle confirmed that there was mutual interest expressed. 

“Obviously, I was interested,” he acknowledged. “I have nothing but high regard, respect and admiration – and envy, quite honestly – of the success of the New England Patriots over the years. Obviously, battling them in my career, it’s always been a great game. I love the way they play, love the foundation, love everything about it. It was definitely on my radar. There were talks both ways, it just didn’t end up [working out].”

The numbers massed at the position with Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon played a role in the two sides not being able to reach accord, according to Weddle. 

“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin [McCourty] is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”

Weddle’s New England attraction apparently wasn’t love that bloomed late in his career. Toward the end of his conference call, Weddle said, “I’m still wondering why they just didn’t draft me in ’07; I could have been still playing there now.”

As reporters puzzled for a moment trying to recall the 2007 first-rounder, Weddle chipped in with the answer: “[They took] Brandon Meriweather.”

Khudobin simply ‘has got to be better’ for Bruins

Khudobin simply ‘has got to be better’ for Bruins

BOSTON – There wasn’t much for Anton Khudobin to say after it was all over on Thursday night. 

The B’s backup netminder allowed four goals on 22 shots while looking like he was fighting the puck all night. It was one of the big reasons behind a tired-looking 4-2 loss to the lowly Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

The loss dropped Khudobin to 1-4-0 on the season and puts him at a 3.02 goals-against average and .888 save percentage this season. Three of the four goals beat Khudobin despite him getting a pretty good look at them. The ultimate game-winner in the second period from John Mitchell just beat him cleanly on the short side. 

Matt Duchene beat Khudobin from the slot on a play that was a bad defense/bad goaltending combo platter to start the game and MacKinnon ripped a shorthanded bid past the Bruins netminder to put Boston in a hole against a woeful Colorado team. 

Afterward, Khudobin didn’t have much to say, with just one good performance among five games played for the Black and Gold this season. 

“Four goals is too much. That’s it,” said a to-the-point Khudobin, who was then asked how he felt headed into the game. “I don’t know; too much energy…yeah, too much. I don’t know. I just had a lot of energy and I think it just didn’t work out my way.”

Khudobin didn’t really expand on why he had too much energy, but perhaps it’s because the compacted schedule has really curtailed the team’s ability to hold team practices on a regular basis. Or maybe he was just disappointed it took him a week to get back between the pipes after playing his best game of the season against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Either way Claude Julien said that the Bruins needed better goaltending on a night where they weren’t at their sharpest physically or mentally, and Khudobin clearly wasn’t up to the challenge this time around. 

“We needed some saves tonight and we didn’t get them. He’s got to be better. A lot of things here that we can be better at and take responsibility [for],” said Julien. “But at the same time, you got to move on here. To me it’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, and we would have had a chance. Now we’ve got to move forward.”

Clearly, the Bruins have no choice but to move on with a busy schedule that doesn’t let up anytime soon, but one of the lessons learned from Thursday night is that the Bruins need to get better backup goaltending from a collective crew (Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban included) that’s won just once in eight games behind Tuukka Rask this season.