The New England Patriots are favored over the Miami Dolphins for Sunday's regular-season finale, but one former Pats player expects an upset at Hard Rock Stadium.
Rob Ninkovich was one of two ESPN reporters/analysts who picked Miami to beat New England. The ex-Patriots linebacker appeared on WEEI's "Merloni & Fauria" to explain why he believes his former team will come up short.
“Guess what, I’ve gone down to Miami at the end of the year and I’ve lost," Ninkovich said. "I can just tell you that it is always a very hard game in Miami in [December and January]. It’s really hard to win down there.
"It's snowing, it's cold up here, you've been practicing all week in cold temperatures. Then you go down to Miami and it's 75 degrees and the sun is baking you. You can't breathe, it's humid, it's hot, you're tired, you feel out of shape. So, when I'm thinking about the Patriots going down to Miami, everyone's kind of just brushed Miami under the rug considering they're not in the playoffs anymore. But you don't realize that they have a really good defense and they have all coaches that used to be here that aren't gonna just take it easy on the Pats because they're out of the playoffs. They want to win this game."
The Patriots have gone 2-6 at Hard Rock Stadium over the last eight seasons.
Despite already clinching a playoff berth, the Patriots will have plenty to play for in Week 18. They can claim the AFC East title with a win over the Dolphins and a Buffalo Bills loss to the New York Jets. In an extremely unlikely scenario, they can earn the top seed in the AFC if they win and the Tennessee Titans, Kansas Chiefs, and Bills all lose.
Kickoff for Sunday's Patriots-Dolphins matchup is set for 4:25 p.m. ET.