In the NFL, every game is 6.25-percent of your season. Every game has the exact same weight as every other, when it comes down to making the postseason. There are some games that seem more important, like division rivalries, and games that lead to tie break scenarios, but, honestly, 6.25-percent of your season is decided each week.
It will be the biggest game of the season for the Dolphins....since last week's biggest game of the season.
While that game was, potentially, the biggest in terms of playoff chances, and the Dolphins lost it, this game may be the biggest in terms of proving the Dolphins are capable of playing with the top teams in the NFL. The Patriots have won the AFC East every year since 2003, other than Miami's one 11-5 year in 2008. They are again battling for the top seed in the AFC, and could be sitting at home all the way through the playoffs as the conference's best team.
Yet, Miami already beat them once this season
Yes, it was the first week of the year when the Patriots looked like they were still trying to find themselves. And, yes, the Dolphins probably took advantage of using a brand new offensive system, and the Miami heat, to get that win. Now, they will have a chance to prove that playing New England that early in the season was not a lucky break.
The Patriots were last swept by an AFC East division rival in 2000, when the Dolphins and New York Jets both did it. How long ago was that? Dave Wannstedt was in his first year as the Dolphins head coach and Bill Belichick was in his first with the Patriots. It was the first year for Miami without Dan Marino, and the team actually won a playoff game. Jay Fielder was Miami's starting quarterback, Lamar Smith the leading rusher, and Oronde Gadsden the top receiver. That season also featured Thurman Thomas playing for Miami, Larry Izzo recording a 39 yard rush for the Dolphins, and Tim Ruddy, Trace Armstrong, Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Izzo, Sam Madison, and Brock Marion all being named to the Pro Bowl for the Dolphins.
The Patriots last lost a regular season home game to an AFC East opponent in 2008, when the Jets and Dolphins both beat them in Foxboro. They dropped a home playoff game to the Jets in Janaury 2011 as a part of the 2010 season. New England's last regular season home loss, regardless of opponent's division, was in December 2012 when the San Francisco 49ers beat them 41-34.
No matter how you break it down, this will be a tough game for Miami, but it will be a big game. If the Dolphins want to reach the 10 win mark, if they want to keep up the pressure on the rest of the AFC Wildcard contenders, they have to win this game. If they want to gain respect, around the league and in the division, they have to win this game.
If the Dolphins are going to show they are making progress, they have to win this game. Sunday's game against the New England Patriots is the biggest game of the year for Miami. At least since their last one, and until their next one.