With home-field advantage wrapped up, the Patriots have nothing to play for on Sunday, at least as far as their playoff position is concerned. But they are playing for coach Bill Belichick to add another accomplishment to his Hall of Fame resume.
If the Patriots beat the Dolphins, it will be their 14th win of the season and would make Belichick (who has previously led the Patriots to two 14-2 records and a 16-0 season) the first coach in NFL history to record four different 14-win regular seasons.
The list of coaches who have had a 14-win season is dominated, of course, by coaches whose careers came after the NFL’s expansion to 16-game seasons in 1978. But losing two or fewer games in a season has always been a difficult achievement: Hall of Fame coaches Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry each managed just two 12-win seasons while coaching the Packers and Cowboys during an era of 14-game schedules.
Belichick’s fourth 14-win season should be enough to get him his third Coach of the Year award.