Monday, March 10, 2014
Before we get into some other stuff, here's something to consider:
The Patriots have the chance to clinch the AFC East title Sunday with a win or tie against the Dolphins in Miami. That would be their fifth consecutive AFC East title and 11th in 12 years.
And consider this: in the 12 seasons that Tom Brady has been the team's starting quarterback, the Patriots have won those 11 division titles. The only year they didn't win it with him at the helm was in 2002, when New England slipped to 9-7 after winning the first of its three Super Bowl championships.
Pretty impressive, eh?
The one other year during this stretch that the Patriots didn't win the AFC East title was in 2008, when Brady tore up his knee in the season's opening quarter and was replaced by Matt Cassel. The Patriots still went 11-5 that year, but didn't make the playoffs.
On to other stuff:
- The Denver Broncos' loss to San Diego Thursday night certainly opened up the No.1 seed to the AFC to the Patriots. If both teams finish with three losses, New England will get the No.1 seed because of its 34-31 overytime victory over the Peyton Manning-led Broncos on Nov. 24.
Does Bill Belichick care?
He was asked about the No.1 seed in his Friday press conference and said this: "There's nothing we can do about anything except what we do. I don't care about anybody else.''
In other words, it is what it is.
- The Patriots have prepared for Sunday's heat in Miami by practicing indoors all week with the heat turned up.
Asked if that could help, Tom Brady said, "There's always a rhyme and a reason why Coach Belichick does things. If we're going to play and it's 10 degrees out, he wants us to be out there in the cold understanding the elements, the conditions, and what it's going to feel like. I don't think you can really duplicate the South Beach and that heat, especially after we've been playing in pretty cold temperatures here for the last six weeks. But we'll do the best we can do. We've faced it before in December and I'm sure it'll be warm down there.''
Belichick said the team was simple staying the course in its preparations:
"Whatever the playing conditions are, the situation is or the travel situation, we try to do things that we feel are most advantageous for that set of circumstances, whatever it is, with our training staff, our strength and conditioning staff, from a nutrion standpoint, if it's travel, our operations - we do things that we feel like would help us the most.''
- The annual Army-Navy game is Saturday and Belichick - a Navy man (his late father coached there) - was asked if the team would change its travel plans so he could watch:
"Our priority is just to have the smoothest trip we can, go down and play well,'' he said. "But I'll be pulling for Navy to get 11 in a row. You can never have too many wins against Army, I'll tell you that.''
- Tom Brady has a 17-6 career record against the Dolphins and has won the last three down in Miami. Over the years he has thrown 40 touchdowns and only 19 interceptions, with a QB rating of 90.2, against Miami.
Since Belichick has become the Patriots head coach, New England is 18-9 against Miami. Overall Miami leads the all-time series 50-46. The Dolphins have a 33-15 advantage at home.
Mike Lowe has covered the New England Patriots since 1999 for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has had a nice view of their emergence as one of the NFL’s premier franchises.
He’s been at the paper since 1982 and has covered everything from a Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. He is married to Tracie and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeLowePPH.