By David Dwork

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The atmosphere inside Hard Rock Stadium is expected to be excellent as South Florida is in the midst of a cold front.

Unfortunately for Miami Dolphins fans, outside of the cool temperatures and throwback uniforms there isn’t a lot to get excited about ahead of Monday’s game with the powerhouse New England Patriots.

The Dolphins (5-7) are still mathematically alive in the AFC playoff race but in order to remain there they’ll have to become the first team to defeat New England since October 1st, a stretch of eight games.

The Patriots’ eight-game win streak was the longest in the NFL before Pittsburgh tied it with a win over Baltimore on Sunday night.

The Steelers now hold the AFC’s top record at 11-2, one New England can match with a win over the Dolphins.

The Patriots come in as 11-point favorites despite being without Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was suspended one game for an intentional late hit to the head of Buffalo cornerback Tre’Davious White last weekend.

Gronkowski apologized for the hit, saying that his frustration was due to missed calls from the referees and he took it out on White.

Even without Gronkowski, the Patriots offense will provide an extremely tough test for Miami.

Last week against Denver, the Dolphins defense came up with a touchdown and a safety while holding the Broncos to just 1-of-13 on third down.

Cameron Wake leads Miami with eight sacks this season, but the 35-year-old has just two over his past six games.

GAME NOTES

  • The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title with a win. It would be the ninth consecutive season that New England has won the division and 13th time in 14 years.
  • Miami is 0-3 this season when playing on national television, being outscored 112-45 by Baltimore, Oakland and Carolina.
  • During his last four games against the Dolphins, Tom Brady has thrown 11 touchdowns and just one interception.
  • Second-year running back Kenyan Drake rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries, both career highs, and a touchdown last week against Denver. He’ll get the bulk of the work when the Dolphins are on offense as Damien Williams remains sidelined with a shoulder injury.
  • During his last two games at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami receiver Kenny Stills has made 12 catches for 278 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Adam Gase is looking for his first win against New England since becoming the Dolphins head coach (0-3).
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