Dolphins about competing, Patriots about winning

Things are starting to change around the New England Patriots, and the AFC East as we enter the final week of the 2019 NFL regular season.

The question is, how much?

No one would have thought months ago that perhaps Sunday’s 1 p.m. game vs. the Miami Dolphins could be Tom Brady’s final regular season game as the Patriots quarterback.

No one would have thought that a Saturday pre-Christmas game vs. Buffalo would be a tough battle for the AFC East title and potential first round bye.

The Bills could be tough from here on out. Miami has the coach in former Patriots defensive assistant Brian Flores, but not the QB. The New York Jets have the QB but not the coach. One might thing it’s only a matter of time when the others catch up to New England.

“Things change and I’m really excited about what’s going on here in Miami,” Flores said this week. “There are a lot of great people here as well. I’m really enjoying myself and trying to help this organization grow and get better. …

“I just like to compete andour team likes to compete, so that’s really what it’s all about for me.”

There was plenty of emotion from the crowd and a playoff like atmosphere last Saturday at Gillette; clearly even though New England will likely finish 13-3 not many would have expected the defensive road it took to get there.

“I think you have to understand what the strengths of your team are,” Brady said during his contracted Monday Night interview with Jim Gray. “…How you’re winning games, how you’re losing games.”

The Patriots are winning them now with Brady as more of a game manager than a prolific quarterback due to a lot of circumstances. If you peer ahead, the AFC East may not be as easy to manage down the road.

Meanwhile, if you look behind, we followed up 7-0 with a bad 3-4. But we won’t go through the motions the following regular season week:


The ultra competitive Flores has done a great job keeping the Dolphins engaged in their season. But they can smell the sun and fun without football now and in the chill of Gillette will be ready to head south midway through the second half.


Houston has clinched the division title, looks like a lock for the fourth seed, and thus it will be relax time. The Titans will want to keep the train rolling to clinch a playoff berth and a likely trip to Kansas City. In Tannehill (Ryan) we trust. Yes, you just read that.


A game neither team wants or really needs to play. Well, maybe the Jets will like the looks of 7-9 instead of 6-10, but Buffalo is already punched its Wild Card Weekend ticket, has no division title hopes, and unlike last week Josh Allen will toss the ball to the wrong team a couple of times. If the Jets win, it’s still fool’s gold because they are going nowhere with Adam Gase pushing the buttons.


Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and hey, who knows, maybe even John Harbaugh himself won’t be around (kidding on Harbaugh). The Steelers need the win to keep their playoff hopes alive, so whichever QB goes will somehow get the job done.


The Jints will put up a fight in this one – really, the only saving grace for coach Pat Shurmur is that his team does play for him – but oh, that awful defense. Carson Wentz leads a 99.5 yard drive that chews up the final 5 minutes for the winning TD. Bye-bye Eli, and bye-bye Cowboys, Eagles NFC East champs.


Beastmode is back, we believe in Beastmode. Boy was Pete Carroll desperate, but the Seahawks had no running backs left in the stable. The one thing is, what happened to Seatt;e’s great home field advantage. They’ve lost three there and it’s hard to believe they’d lose a fourth at home, especially in back to back weeks. Jimmy G & Co. will head to Philly for Wild Card Weekend.


Disappointing seasons end for both. It’s Dallas coach Jason Garrett’s last stand, as his team will scoreboard watch but only like what it sees on its own huge AT&T Stadium board. It’s easy to look like a playoff team on the last day of the regular season.


SEASON: 71-42

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).