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MIAMI (AP) — Ryan Tannehill was heading out the door when someone noted the predicted high temperature of 83 for Sunday’s game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.“Not quite hot enough White Adam Butler Jerseys ,” Tannehill responded with a smile.Turn up the heat. That’s what the Dolphins tend to do when the Patriots play in Miami.While New England has dominated Miami — and everyone else — in the AFC East over the past decade, the reverse has been true lately when the teams meet in South Florida.The Dolphins have won four of the past five home meetings, including 27-20 last December when Jay Cutler outplayed Tom Brady.Oddsmakers expect the trend to end, with New England (9-3) a touchdown favorite over Miami (6-6).Here are things to know as the Patriots attempt to clinch their 10th consecutive division title:TOUGH PLACE TO PLAYIn recent years the Patriots have had worse results in Miami than anywhere else, and New England coach Bill Belichick blames the Dolphins.“They’ve got a good football team,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of good players.”That’s fine, coach, except that in Foxborough, your team has won 10 in a row against Miami by an average score of 33-13. That includes a 38-7 victory earlier this season. And in the standings, the Dolphins have been perennial also-rans to your dynasty.Belichick and his players discount the South Florida climate as a factor, but it does favor the Dolphins, with teams from the north tending to wilt in the warm weather.“Sometimes it hits some of these teams pretty hard,” Miami coach Adam Gase said.The bad news for the Dolphins is that forecasters don’t anticipate the heavily favored Patriots will take the game lightly — not with the annoyance this week of constant questions about their recent results in Miami.“The last few times we’ve played them down there, we haven’t played very well,” running back James White acknowledged, “so I think that’s enough motivation.”ANOTHER CHANCEAfter a quiet day when the teams met in September, Miami receiver Danny Amendola is itching for another crack at his former team, but he has been nursing a knee injury and missed last week’s win over Buffalo.Amendola became one of Brady’s favorite targets during his five seasons in New England. He is in his first year with Miami after signing a $12 million, two-year contract and leads the team in catches and yards receiving.Patriots safety Patrick Chung said Amendola was always a handful in practice.“Danny’s the man,” Chung said. “He’s a small dude Adam Butler Jerseys 2019 , but he’s stronger than you think and he’s feisty. He’s going to be ready for us.”EVOLVING IDENTITYEarly this season, opponents took advantage of a New England defense that struggled to get pressure up front and was susceptible in the secondary to big plays.The Patriots appear to be tightening up at the right time. They haven’t allowed a 300-yard passer in five consecutive games, or a 100-yard rusher in nine consecutive games.That’s a vast improvement for a unit that gave up 30 or more points three times in the first seven games, including a season-high 40 in narrow win over Kansas City.Belichick said the improvement is part of an evolving identity in the first season with linebackers coach Brian Flores making defensive calls.COMEBACK QBTannehill has a passer rating of 112.7 with five touchdowns and one interception in two games since returning from an injury to his throwing shoulder. The performances come amid growing speculation about whether the Dolphins will bring him back next season.“I have a long way to go to get where I want to be,” he said. “I think I’m doing all right, but a lot of plays I’d like to be better at. I think we have a lot better football in front of us as an offense.”MILESTONE WATCHBrady enters Sunday tied with Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes in NFL history, including playoffs.Manning and Brady both have 579 TD tosses, followed by Brett Favre (552) and Drew Brees (547). The 508 regular-season touchdown passes by Brady and Favre trail Manning (539) and Brees (518) on the career list. ATLANTA (AP) — The guys from LA seemed to enjoy the spectacle.The silly questions. The ridiculous antics. The carnival-like atmosphere.Why wouldn’t they?It’s all new to most of them.“I’m 37 years old and I’m big-eyed right now,” said offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, the oldest player on the Los Angeles Rams. “This is amazing. It’s something that excites you and makes you realize how special this game is.”For the other guys at Super Bowl Media Night, there might as well have been a collective yawn.The New England Patriots have been through it all before.Over and over again.Bill Belichick looked out on the assembled media — sprinkled with an array of comics, TV personalities and riff-raff — with his usual disdain.Tom Brady smiled at all the right times but might as well have been on auto-pilot.It will be interesting to see how it all plays out next Sunday.Will the brash young Rams — with a sweatsuit-wearing coach, Sean McVay, who is half Belichick’s age and a quarterback, Jared Goff, who doesn’t remember Brady’s first Super Bowl because, well, he was only 7 years old the time — find themselves overwhelmed on the big stage?Are the wily ol’ Patriots — making their ninth Super Bowl appearance in 18 seasons and already possessing enough rings to fill out an entire hand — simply too experienced to slip up against a team that has virtually no track record at this time of year to fall back on?“Probably throughout the week, it gives them an advantage,” Whitworth conceded. “They kind of know this week. They know when things are a little anxious White Elandon Roberts Jerseys , when to kind of, hey, turn it on and get ready to play. They probably have a process and a plan for the week.“But you know what?” he quickly added. “I’m just a firm believer that when you get out there and you snap that football, at some point the nerves are going to go away. You’re going to have to settle in and be the team you are.”Those who are quick to declare that the Rams are just happy to be here, perhaps after watching McVay toss balls toward a kid hoisted onto an adult’s shoulders and wearing a goalpost-shaped hat, might want to consider all they’ve been through.A season ago, they suddenly emerged as one of the NFL’s most exciting young teams, improving from 4-12 in 2016 — their first season back in Los Angeles after two decades in St. Louis — to 11-5 and a division championship. Then, in the first-round of the playoffs, they were upset at the Coliseum by the Atlanta Falcons.“We felt like we could’ve made it (to the Super Bowl) last year,” said John Johnson III, the Rams’ second-year safety. “We were really disappointed.”This season, Los Angeles stared down a pair of off-the-field tragedies without batting an eye. There were the wildfires that raged in Southern California, forcing them to cancel a practice and creating some anxious moments for those closest to them. There was a mass shooting that claimed 13 lives at a bar not far from their Thousand Oaks training base.They also spent a week training in Colorado Springs, preparing to play a game in the high altitude of Mexico City, only to have that contest moved back to Los Angeles on short notice because of poor field conditions at Estadio Azteca.“It was like one thing after another that we can’t control,” Whitworth said. “We really had to just settle in — even though we were worried about our families and our friends and people around us — and just play football.”They went 13-3 to capture another division title and a first-round bye. They knocked off the Dallas Cowboys for the franchise’s first playoff victory in 14 years. Then, playing in one of the league’s most hostile road environments, they rallied from an early 13-point deficit to beat the New Orleans Saints in overtime.Sure, the Rams needed a blown call in the closing minutes of regulation just to get to overtime. But considering all they had been through Elandon Roberts Jerseys 2019 , there was probably a bit of karma in that outcome.Now, they face the ultimate test.Belichick, Brady and the Super Bowl-tested Patriots.New England is not unbeatable, of course. They’ve actually lost three of those eight previous Super Bowls, and every single one has been a nail-biter, the average margin barely more than four points.But the Patriots carry themselves with a haughty aura that they’ve more than earned. A team that shows the least bit of timidity or uncertainty will likely find itself beaten before taking the field. Even with all those titles on their resume, Belichick and Brady seem as driven as ever.With his gruff-meter turned up to full blast and wearing a dark suit that would’ve worked just fine at a funeral, Belichick scoffed at a reporter who questioned, innocently enough, how he managed to avoid burnout. He brushed off a wide range of queries with his standard “I’m only focused on this game” retort. He refused to play along with any attempts to crack his grim veneer.When someone from the TV show “Extra” asked him to pick a random question from a helmet, Belichick reluctantly grabbed a slip of paper that read, “Who is Adam Levine married to?”The coach tossed it aside with disdain.“Ask me a football question,” Belichick demanded.Yep, the Patriots have been through it all before.We’ll see if that makes a difference comes Sunday.“I think experience helps. But I don’t think it will be the deciding factor. Yeah, they’ve been to this game a lot. But they haven’t played this team,” Johnson said, looking around at a group that has come so far.“Ever.”
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