A win Sunday over the Dolphins will deliver the Patriots their 10th AFC East title in 12 seasons.
With their record currently at 8-3 and the Dolphins at 5-6, a win by the Pats means the Patriots would have a four-game lead on them with four games to play.
Miami could tie the Patriots at 9-7 if the Patriots lost their last four against Houston, San Francisco, Jacksonville and the Dolphins, and Miami wins its last four at San Francisco, against the Jaguars and Bills and then at New England.
But even with a split of the head-to-head games, the Patriots would have a 5-1 record in the AFC East and Miami would be 3-3.
What the Patriots have accomplished since 2001 is stunning. They have finished alone or in a tie for first place in the division every season since 2001. The two times they failed to make the playoffs in that stretch -- 2002 and 2008 -- the Patriots finished at 9-7 and 11-5, respectively, but were edged from the postseason on tiebreakers.
The Patriots are slowly approaching the point where the Brady-Belichick Era will be regarded as the greatest run in NFL history.
A win this week will mean the Patriots have won nine or more games in 12 straight seasons, second only to the 49ers run of 16 seasons of nine or more wins (1983-98). The Niners accomplished that with three different head coaches (Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Steve Mariucci) and two Hall of Fame quarterbacks (Joe Montana and Steve Young).
If the Patriots get to 10 wins, they will break into second place with nine straight seasons of 10 or more wins (trailing the Niners' 16 straight).
If the Patriots win their final five games, they will become the first team in NFL history with three straight seasons of 13 or more wins. Currently, they are the only team to have done that deed twice (2003-2004 and 2010-2011).