W2W4: Patriots at Dolphins

December, 14, 2013
12/14/13
10:00
AM ET
The Miami Dolphins (7-6) have a huge AFC East showdown Sunday with the New England Patriots (10-3). New England has a chance to clinch the division for the fifth straight year, while the Dolphins are fighting for the final wild card in the AFC.

Here are three things to watch for from Miami’s perspective:

Sense of urgency: The Dolphins have a small margin for error with four teams fighting for the final wild card. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is preaching to his team to have a strong sense of urgency. Philbin told his team, “What are you waiting for? There’s not going to be any other times.” The Dolphins have lost to New England in seven straight games.

Clock control: Miami is running the football as well as it has all year. That could be a major key to success to beating the Patriots. The Dolphins rushed for a season-high 181 yards in last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Daniel Thomas has his first 100-yard game since 2011 and it appears Lamar Miller could return Sunday from his concussion. New England has the NFL’s 31st-ranked run defense. Running the ball well to control the clock will keep Patriots quarterback Tom Brady off the field.

Protecting home: Miami has struggled at home this season. The Dolphins are a mediocre 3-3 and hasn’t developed the type of home-field advantage they expected. The Patriots also struggled on the road this year. All three of New England’s losses have come away from Gillette Stadium. This would be Miami’s biggest home win by far this year.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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AFC EAST SCOREBOARD