The Miami Dolphins will close out the regular season when they host the New England Patriots on Sunday.
For the first time since 2008, Miami will still have football to play even after this game. The Dolphins clinched a playoff berth last week and now have a chance to improve their positioning. Miami could capture the fifth seed in the AFC if it wins and the Kansas City Chiefs lose. Otherwise, the Dolphins would be the sixth seed in next week's Wild-Card game.
The Patriots already clinched a bye, but they still have plenty to play for. New England does not have a lock on the top overall seed as of yet. A win in this one would guarantee the Patriots are home for the duration of the AFC playoffs. Due to this, New England is expected to play all of the team's first-string players and play to win.
The Dolphins are going to utilize all of their starting players as well on Sunday. Entering the playoffs as the fifth seed would mean a date with the Houston Texans instead of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams would be challenging, but the playoff experience of the Steelers can make them an even more imposing foe. Miami would be on the road in either contest, and would undoubtedly be the underdog as well.
Matt Moore will start his third straight game for Miami in the finale after winning his first two. Ryan Tannehill is still working his way back from a knee injury, but it is possible the quarterback is ready next week. Moore meanwhile has shown the Dolphins that they have a more than capable backup if needed. Even though he began last week's win in Buffalo slow, Moore turned things around in the second half to help the Dolphins win.
When these two teams faced one another in the second week of the season, the Patriots beat the Dolphins even without Tom Brady. Miami stumbled to 0-2 at that point and did not look like a contending team. Brady was serving a suspension to begin the season, but has returned with a vengeance. The veteran QB has 25 touchdowns this year and only two interceptions.
Jay Ajayi is officially listed as questionable for the game after suffering a shoulder injury towards the end of last week's win. The running back should be active for this one, and Miami will likely need him. Ajayi was the backup RB when the Patriots last saw the Dolphins. Since then, the 23-year old has become one of the most consistent running backs in the league. Ajayi has racked up three 200-plus yard rushing games, including last week's effort.
Sunday's regular season finale at Hard Rock Stadium will get underway at 1:00 p.m.