Division Work Begins

Buffalo RB C.J. Spiller

After a fairly early bye, the Dolphins still have a large portion of their regular season schedule ahead of them. And a large portion of that remaining schedule consists of the all-important division games. It's six of the last 11, to be precise, as the Dolphins are getting their latest-ever start on AFC East action.

It has been 11 years since the NFL went to its current divisional format in 2002, with the Dolphins losing Indianapolis as an AFC East foe.

In the 11 seasons there has been a four-team AFC East, the Dolphins have finished with a winning division record three times — in 2003, 2008 and 2009.

Two of those seasons ended in overall winning records, in 2003 and 2008 when the Dolphins won the AFC East title with an 11-5 mark.

The Dolphins also have broken even at 3-3 in AFC East games twice (2005, 2011), meaning the other six seasons resulted in losing records in division games.

That was the case last season when Miami went 2-4 in division games, splitting against Buffalo and the Jets, and getting swept by New England.

The game at Buffalo was a turning point in the 2012 season, with the Dolphins coming in at 4-5 after having been embarrassed at home by Tennessee.

Of course, the Patriots have owned the AFC East since the switch to four teams, having won the division nine times and tying for first the other two.

A big reason for New England's dominance has been its dominance in division games. The Patriots have gone 6-0 twice, 5-1 five other times, and 4-2 times for a total of 53-13.

Already this season, the Patriots are 2-0 with victories against the Bills and Jets in the first two weeks.

If the Dolphins have any hope of unseating the Pats, they'll have to show that kind of dominance in division games.

For this season, that would start Sunday against Buffalo.

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