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.

Ortiz: Yankees fans' booing 'wakes up the monster in me'

Ortiz: Yankees fans' booing 'wakes up the monster in me'

In his 1-on-1 interview with CSN Red Sox Insider Sean McAdam, David Ortiz thanks Yankees fans, ahead of his final series at Yankee Stadium, for the motivation they’ve given him throughout his Red Sox career. 

He expressed a similar sentiment in this post on The Players' Tribune website.

 

Stevens’ first practice observation: ‘We’re going to be able to fly around’

Stevens’ first practice observation: ‘We’re going to be able to fly around’

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Before the Celtics fully stretched prior to their first practice of the season, coach Brad Stevens had his players go 5-on-5 in a not-live breakdown while going at about 30 percent full speed or similar to what they would do in a walk-through.

“If that was 30 percent, we’re going to be able to fly around,” said Stevens. “I think it was just a misjudging of what 30 percent is. They were flying early on in practice. We have to be able to fully rotate, we have to guard different positions, you gotta be able to read the game instinctively and obviously there’s an athletic component that allows you to do so effectively.”

Regardless, the Celtics are a team that will rely more on their athleticism in past seasons in order to be effective and live up to the lofty expectations so many have for them this season.

“We have a real good team, real athletic at a lot of spots,” Celtics forward Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “We definitely got a couple more high-flyers in the building this year.”

He’s speaking about Gerald Green, a former Slam Dunk champion, and Jaylen Brown, who is considered one of the more athletic players among this year’s rookie class.

And that athleticism was indeed on display in the early moments of the team’s first practice of the season.

But what makes the Celtics a team that could potentially be a major player in the East, is that the increased athleticism is now married to a team whose skill level is underrated.

Talent and athleticism is certainly a bonus for any team.

But the Celtics know the road to being among the game’s elite is long and winding, a journey that they are just beginning to embark on right now.

And while there are plenty of directions that Stevens can put a greater focus on in these early days, it doesn’t appear the Celtics' leader will go that route.

“We’ve got a lot being installed,” Stevens said. “We’ll keep the emphasis on being a blue-collar team and playing together.”