FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots play four of their final five games of the season against division opponents, starting Sunday with the Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots (8-2) have won six straight games and return home after a two-game road trip with games in Denver and Mexico to play the Dolphins (4-6), losers of four in a row. Of course for Coach Bill Belichick, it’s ‘On to Miami,’ but fans are also peeking ahead to that Week 15 showdown with Pittsburgh (8-2), which currently holds the tiebreaker with New Eggland for top seed in the AFC.

But first it’s Miami. Since 2000, the Patriots are 79-28 against AFC East opponents, including 22-12 against the Dolphins.

Here are a few things to watch on Sunday:

A level-headed approach

After reaching new heights with wins at Denver (a 41-16 romp over the Broncos) and Mexico City (a 33-8 rout of the Raiders), the Patriots return to more level ground in Foxborough, a mere 289 feet above sea level.

With trips to Buffalo, Miami and Pittsburgh coming up, it’ll be nearly another month before the Pats play at home again – a date with the Bills on Christmas Eve followed by a regular season-ending date with the New York Jets on New Year’s Eve.

As for the Dolphins, they haven’t won at Gillette since 2008 when Coach Tony Sparano’s team rode Ronnie Brown and the Wildcat formation to a 38-13 victory. The Dolphins have lost eight straight in New England, six of them by double figures.

Football futility

This game matches Miami’s 30th-ranked offense – which ranks 31st in points per game, 29th in rushing and 20th in passing – against New England’s 32nd-ranked defense, one that is tied for 24th in defending the run and dead last against the pass.

The Patriots’ defense continues to trend upward, however with 17 points or less allowed in six straight games, and a season-low eight last Sunday. The Dolphins’ offense, on the other hand, is trending toward the offseason.

The Dolphins will be without the services of starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who was ruled out of the game on Friday with a concussion. Veteran backup Matt Moore will get the start.

Running on empty

At first, the Dolphins’ decision to deal Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia for a fourth-round draft pick in 2018 in a trade deadline deal on Oct. 31 sounded like some sort of Halloween prank.

It wasn’t.

Ajayi, a 24-year-old workhorse coming off a Pro Bowl season had fallen out of favor with Gase to the point that he was ready to move on to a running backs-by-committee approach with unknowns Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake.

How’s that working out? Ajayi carried the ball seven times for 91 yards in the Eagles’ 37-9 romp at Dallas last Sunday night. Williams and Drake combined to carry the ball 17 times for 82 yards in the Dolphins’ 30-20 loss to Tampa Bay that day.

A hands-on approach

How often have the Dolphins thrown the ball to Jarvis Landry since he broke into the league as a second-round pick in the 2014 draft? With 67 receptions, the wide receiver is third in the league this year, trailing only Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (70) and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (69).

With the 343rd catch of his career in the eighth game of this season, Landry had already set the league record for receptions by a player in his first four years in the league. That’s right. He set the record in 31/2 seasons.

Passing judgment

It could be a productive day for Rob Gronkowski, James White and the like.

Citing statistics from Pro Football Focus, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson wrote this week that of the 110 passes thrown with Dolphins linebackers in coverage (mostly against tight ends and running backs) this season, 87 have been completed for 862 yards, a 79.1 percent completion rate that’s been good for 9.9 yards per completion.

Suh-ner or later

For better or worse, Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is bound to impact this game.

Since entering the league with the Detroit Lions in 2010, the good Suh leads all players at his position with 401 tackles and 51 run stuffs and is second to Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins (58) in sacks by a defensive tackle with 501/2.

The bad Suh has been prone to, shall we say, overaggressive acts over the years and dumb penalties such as the neutral zone infraction in a loss to Carolina a couple of Monday nights ago that prompted ESPN’s Jon Gruden to say: “That’s ridiculous. When you get a team third-and-7 and you’re the highest-paid defensive lineman in football (Suh is in the midst of a six-year, $114-million contract he signed with Miami in 2015), you just can’t have it.”

Not half bad

In what truly has become a remarkable streak, the Patriots have scored in the last minute of the first half seven games in a row.

In other words, delay that halftime trip to the concession stand, refrigerator or comfort station until the teams are headed for their locker rooms.