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Patriots The regular season is almost over today, the New England Patriots will host the Miami Dolphins in the two teams’ 16th game of the season. But even though the future is already written for both clubs — the Patriots will advance to the playoffs, the Dolphins head into the offseason — there is a lot on the line for the home team: New England will secure a first-round postseason bye with a victory over its division rivals.

Patriots Live

The confidence Patriots fans have in their team took a hit with back-to-back losses against the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, but it rebounded well over the last two weeks: New England’s blowout win against the Cincinnati Bengals and division-clinching victory over the Buffalo Bills — arguably one of the most complete games the team has played so far this season — pushed the confidence meter back into the league’s upper echelon.

Heading into the regular season finale, 85% of Patriots fans feel good about the team according to SB Nation’s latest FanPulse survey. The number improved by 18% compared to last week’s, and now has the team’s followers ranked sixth in the NFL: only the Baltimore Ravens (100%), New Orleans Saints (100%), Chiefs (97%), Bills (89%) and San Francisco 49ers (87%) have a higher approval rating at this point in time.

The same cannot be said about the Dolphins, even though their score is far higher than one would expect of a 4-11 team looking to pick in the top five in the draft. However, fans apparently view the club’s rebuilding process as a positive one which would explain why 67% of them expressed their confidence through the FanPulse vote. This means that Miami ranks 10th heading into its final game of the 2019 season. December 29, 2019 at 10:12 am

In what is widely seen as a regular-season formality disguised as a regular-season finale, Sunday’s showdown between the Pats and Dolphins has actually packed some unexpected intrigue.

Because of Baltimore’s rise and their late-season stumbles, the Patriots must beat Miami in order to clinch a first-round playoff bye. Lately, the Dolphins have pulled themselves out of the league’s basement and into respectability despite deliberately leaking talent all year. Several Miami coaches and players will also return home to Foxboro, where they started their kicked off their NFL careers; most notably, head coach Brian Flores.

Most of those ex-Pats should have recognized the scene last weekend, when the Patriots reinvigorated themselves by blowing through Buffalo to claim the AFC East title. It was the same script they followed a year ago in Week 16, shortly before they demolished another division foe in the finale to officially spring themselves into the postseason.

So can the Pats do it again? Or will the Dolphins play spoiler?

Here’s what we’ll be looking for in Sunday’s Pats/Dolphins matchup:
Throwback Tom

Tom Brady’s revival against the Bills was the most encouraging sign yet for the Pats’ Super Bowl hopes. The true test of his resurgence will be whether he can prove it wasn’t a late-season flash in the pan.

Brady’s 111 QB rating last weekend was his highest since Week 2, when he shredded Miami during a 43-0 thrashing back in September. That day, he finished 20-of-28 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. The receiving talent around him has since dwindled, though his protection has improved.

All the Patriots should need is a repeat performance; one reminiscent of the early stages of his career when he served mostly as a rich man’s game manager.

The Dolphins defensive staff will know how to attack the Patriots’ pass-blocking schemes better than most. If Brady is sharp from the start and can diagnose Miami’s plan, it will be the surest sign yet he and the Pats are ready for the the postseason.
Gilmore vs. Parker

For most of the season, the Dolphins have struggled to score points. It hasn’t been DeVante Parker’s fault.

Miami’s No. 1 wideout is about to punctuate a career year, which to date has yielded 64 catches for 1,065 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Parker, a former first-round pick, has unlocked the talent that once made him a highly regarded prospect. Now he’s a problem for defenses.

Any upset of the Pats must flow through him, considering no other Dolphins receiver has totaled 500 yards this season, and they own the league’s worst running game. If Stephon Gilmore, on track to make his second All-Pro team, can shut Parker down, he should shut out Miami’s offense, too. Patriots-Dolphins live stream, TV channel, start time (Week 17)
Today 9:06 AM
4-5 minutes

Patriots

Tom Brady

AP

How to watch Sunday’s Patriots-Dolphins game. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The New England Patriots wrap up their 2019 regular season schedule Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots will be playing to win Sunday, as a win clinches a playoff bye. Meanwhile, the Dolphins will be looking to finish the season strong after an abysmal start to Brian Flores’ start in Miami.

Here’s all the TV schedule, start time and live stream info you need to catch the game.

Patriots vs. Dolphins

Start time/date: Sunday, Dec. 29 | 1:00 p.m. EST at Gillette Stadium

TV: CBS – The Patriots are out of the primetime spot, but still land a nice late afternoon game. Despite the different timing, the game will be a standard CBS broadcast.

Live stream: fuboTV (free trial) | Sling | CBS All-Access – CBS’ live stream service requires a cable subscription while the other services have their own subscriptions (and free trials).

Free local live stream: This stream is for the home market area only. According to Patriots.com, the stream will be available on the Patriots iOS Mobile App or Safari mobile on Patriots.com. Availability will depend on your TV listings. If your device is connected to the internet in New England, there’s a good chance you have access to the free stream.The Dolphins, led by first-year head coach and former Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores, were eliminated from postseason contention weeks ago. A loss would improve their position in the 2020 NFL Draft.

THE ODDS
Oddsmakers pegged the Patriots as 16-point home favorites entering the weekend. New England is 8-6-1 against the spread and 6-1 at home this season. Miami is 8-7 ATS and 1-6 on the road.

LAST WEEK
The Patriots scored their most impressive victory of the season last Saturday, prevailing 24-17 over a formidable and playoff-bound Buffalo Bills team to improve to 12-3 and clinch their 11th consecutive AFC East title.

The 4-11 Dolphins dispatched the one-win Cincinnati Bengals in surprisingly thrilling fashion, blowing a 23-point lead in the final seven minutes before rebounding to win 38-35 in overtime. Jason Sanders kicked a game-winning, 37-yard field goal as time expired to give Miami its fourth victory in its last eight games.

LAST MEETING
The Patriots laid the smackdown on the Dolphins in Week 2, cruising to a 43-0 victory at Hard Rock Stadium.

Stephon Gilmore and Jamie Collins both returned interceptions for touchdowns in that game, and Tom Brady completed four passes to Antonio Brown, including a 20-yard score. Those were the only passes Brown would catch during his brief stint as a Patriots receiver.

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