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Setting the scene: Patriots-Dolphins

12.02.12 at 10:39 am ET

Rain and temperatures in the mid-70s are expected for the 1 p.m. kickoff as the Patriots look to clinch their 10th AFC East title in 12 seasons with a win over the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.

The Patriots head into the game with three players already ruled out, as Rob Gronkowski (forearm), Chandler Jones (ankle) and Logan Mankins (ankle) will all miss the game.

Julian Edelman did practice this week after suffering a concussion in the team’s last game, 11 days ago on Thanksgiving night. But he was limited and was officially questionable for the game. Edelman was one of 15 players listed as questionable on the team’s official injury report as of Friday afternoon.

The Dolphins, by contrast, are relatively healthy, listing only nine players on their entire report, with eight probable and one questionable.

Much has been made of the fact this week – and rightfully so – that the Patriots have been become automatic in the second half of seasons under Bill Belichick.

They are 19-0 in the second half of seasons, dating to their last loss, Jan. 3, 2010, which marked the 2009 season finale. That was the game in which Wes Welker blew out his knee in Houston and the Patriots lost a double-digit lead and fell to the Texans, 34-27.

They are also an NFL-best 41-5 in the month of December since 2001, a record that includes seven perfect Decembers. Belichick is 43-7 in December with the Patriots, the best record in the month for one coach with one team in NFL history. George Seifert (49ers) is second at 27-6.

A win today would also ensure New England its 12th consecutive winning season. Only San Francisco (1983-98) and Dallas (1970-85) with 16 straight winning campaigns have better in NFL history.

Who will be the key player in today's Pats-Dolphins game?

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dallas Cowboys, George Seifert, Miami Dolphins



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