Patriots can clinch AFC East this Sunday


Patriots can clinch AFC East this Sunday

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).

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

Tom E. Curran in the Cumberland Farms lounge joins Sports Tonight to discuss what he thinks it will be like when Roger Goodell attends the Patriots home opener on September 7.

Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

BOSTON – The Bruins needed to follow up last weekend’s win over the Islanders if they truly wanted it to be a turning point, and they followed up in victorious fashion on Tuesday night.

The Bruins scored a pair of goals early and then hung on for dear life behind a strong return effort from Tuukka Rask in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. Rask stopped 24-of-25 shots for his 34th win of the season and looked both rested and recharged after taking last weekend off from on-ice action.

The win gives the Bruins two in a row, and improves their record under Bruce Cassidy at the Garden to a dominant 8-3 in 11 games.

Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring just a couple of minutes into the game when he knocked home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara point blast from long distance, and scored his 18th goal of the season. Boston’s other frontline center, David Krejci, scored 10 minutes later after taking a slick entry pass from David Pastrnak and beating Pekka Rinne five-hole.

Rask made 15 saves in the first two periods including an excellent stop on Viktor Arvidsson following a David Backes turnover on the half-wall in the second period, but the Preds finally busted through in the final period. Craig Smith tipped home a Roman Josi point shot that squeezed through Rask’s leg pads, and both Rask and the Bruins scrambled and scrapped their way through while clinging to a one-goal advantage late in the game.

A 3-on-1 odd-man rush late in the game led to Riley Nash feeding Rhode Island native Noel Acciari for his first career NHL goal in his 43rd game with the Black and Gold.