Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 12/23/11

Well we have made it to week 16 and the 11-3, AFC East champion New England Patriots look to better their chances of home-field advantage in the playoffs.  The Patriots also will be looking to build on their current six-game winning streak when the Miami Dolphins will head into Foxborough.  The 5-9 Dolphins have had an up and down year with the downs out weighing the ups.

The Dolphins started out the season 0-7 and quarterback Chad Henne went down with a shoulder injury, ending his season short.  Since than, Matt Moore has taken over as the starter and has given the Dolphins a few solid games while at it.  But in the end, the Dolphins may be one of the many teams in search of a quarterback in this year’s draft.

Miami will have their hands full this weekend as they will look to do anything but repeat week one’s performance against the Patriots.  On the first Monday Night game of the year, New England’s offense went up and down the Miami defense en route to a 38-24 victory.  Tom Brady threw for a personal high of 514 yards with four touchdown passes to go with it.  But this late in the season and the Patriots playing for a first-round bye and home-field advantage, is there any hope for the Dolphins in this game?

Reggie Bush will need to repeat his Week 15 performance if the Dolphins have any chance of beat the Patriots

Well if there is any chance, it got a bit brighter when Patriot’s defensive end Vince Wilfork went down last week with an ankle injury that will have him sidelined for Sunday’s game.  Wilfork has been the lone bright spot on defense for the Pats, with 10 sacks to go along with 52 tackles.  Another bright spot for the Dolphins which could cause problems for the Patriots is the new life of running back Reggie Bush.  Bush has a career day last week when he ran for 203 yards and a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills.  The Patriots have been pretty good against opposing running backs this year but Bush is finally showing some of the potential we all saw in college.  Look for Bush to have a huge impact on the Patriots defensive scheme this weekend.

As for the race in the AFC, it looks as if it will come down to the last week to decide home-field advantage. In order for the Patriots to clinch this week, they would need a lot of help.  A New England win, Houston loss vs. the Colts, Baltimore loss vs. the Browns, and Pittsburgh loss vs. the Rams.  Looking at those four game, I really don’t see all of those teams losing which means it will all come down to week 17.

The formula is actually very simple for the AFC East champions: beat two weaker division opponents and you have won’t have to leave New England until the Super Bowl.

With Miami this week and the Buffalo Bills next week, don’t be surprised if the Patriots end up with the number one seed in the AFC.  Also the Patriots have a chance to finish the season on an eight game winning streak, taking all that momentum into the playoffs.  If you think that doesn’t mean anything, ask the Green Bay Packers who just barely got into the playoffs last year thanks to a three game winning streak to end the season.

Sports Bettors: NE -9.5 and OVER of 48.5

Merry Christmas!

New England Patriots Welcome Dolphins, In Pursuit of Home-Field isportsweb

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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