FOXBORO -- For the second-straight season New England can clinch the AFC East in Miami. A win would also help the Patriots in their goal of securing the No. 1 playoff seed, though they claim to be focused on the short-term.
"We've got to make sure we get there first and it starts with Miami," running back LeGarrette Blount said Friday. "As soon as we can go out there and hopefully get this win, then we can go from there."
New England won, 27-17, when the two teams met October 27. But Bill Belichick will be the first one to say that doesn't mean a thing, especially against divisional opponents. The Jets did win this season's rematch, after all.
"I think it’s trying to whittle down the volume of information, which is excessive," the coach explained. "It’s way more than you need. But you can’t ignore it. If they did something against us last year, we can’t ignore it. Or if they’ve had a strong tendency of doing something in the past but they haven’t done as much of it recently but they’ve shown it, we know they still have it, we don’t want to just say, ‘Well, that’s not going to come up.’ I think that would be irresponsible.
"But at the same time, you can’t get ready for everything. There’s just too much history. And they can’t do everything and we can’t do everything. It’s the same thing. You go back with us and find plays that we’ve run in the past that have resurfaced recently for one reason or another because of the scheme or situation that we’re in. But the volume of that is enormous. It’s definitely something that as a coach and as a player, you’ve got to focus on a few key things and make sure you get those done."
The Dolphins are hunting down their own playoff hopes, inspired by back-to-back wins over the Jets and Steelers. Ryan Tannehill had two of his best quarterback ratings in those games; he appears to be playing faster and making better decisions. Even the ground game, inconsistent at best this season, is producing yards.
As for the defense: "It's the same guys," Blount noted. "They still have a nice front seven, they still have their backers and their D-line. They're going to be good, and they've improved a lot since the last time we've played them."
Miami's 'D' is in the NFL's top 10 for fewest points allowed per game, at 21.2. And it's certainly catching New England at the right time as an ACL injury ended Rob Gronkowski's season last weekend.
The Patriots ranked second in the league in points scored with the tight end and 22nd without him, fourth in red zone efficiency with him and 30th without.
Blount promised the running back corps understands the pressure.
"We've got to be able to move the football. We've got to be able to get the tough yardage, get the hidden yardage -- the yards we left on the field the last time. So we've got to make sure we find those and continue to run the football."
New England actually rushed for 152 yards in the win over the Dolphins for a bigger gain then the passing offense. Tom Brady completed just 13-of-22 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback was also sacked three times and threw one pick.
You can see why the Patriots won't look past Week 15.
"It all starts Sunday," Blount stated. "Starting from Miami and going forward. We can look at the situation from there. We've just to get this Miami down first."