The Patriots guarantee themselves a week off with a victory over the Dolphins on Sunday and they are halfway to that bye.
They lead the Dolphins 21-0 at halftime in Foxborough, a score that’s reflective of how just about everything has gone the Patriots’ way thus far in Week 17. New England has outgained Miami 279-106, they’ve sacked Ryan Tannehill twice, intercepted him once and even got to watch Nate Kaeding miss a 41-yard field goal at the end of the one positive drive the Dolphins were able to manage.
Rob Gronkowski has played a fair amount in his return to the lineup from a broken forearm and helped set up the team’s first touchdown with a 19-yard catch. It’s the only catch of the half for Gronkowski, but there’s been no visible signs that he won’t be able to help them a great deal come the postseason.
The only negative for New England was the loss of defensive end Rob Ninkovich to a hip injury in the second quarter. Ninkovich needed assistance getting off the field and his return is being called questionable by the team. Ninkovich has eight sacks this season as an essential part of their front seven mix and locking down that bye would make it likelier that he’ll be healthy enough to remain one come the postseason.