January 02, 2017

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) With victory assured, Tom Brady watched the New England Patriots' final offensive series from the sideline, good preparation for what's to come.

All of the Patriots will be spectators for the next week, enjoying a bye to start the postseason. And thanks to Sunday's 35-14 victory over Miami , the Patriots (14-2) will be home throughout the AFC playoffs, a reward for their best record since 2010.

''This team showed a lot of mental toughness that they can do it week in and week out at a consistent level,'' Brady said. ''Any team can go 8-8. ... But 14-2 is a tough thing to do. It's very cool for this team to accomplish that.''

While the Patriots are playoff perennials, the Dolphins (10-6) are in the postseason for the first time in eight years. Here are things to know about the playoff picture for both teams:

POSTSEASON SCHEDULE: The Dolphins were already locked into an AFC wild-card berth, and they'll be the No. 6 seed next weekend when they play at No. 3 Pittsburgh (11-5), the AFC North champion.

If the Dolphins win, they'll play at New England the weekend of Jan. 14-15.

''Just because you win this last weekend doesn't mean anything two weeks from now,'' Brady said.

The Dolphins lost both games against New England this season, falling behind 24-0 in the first meeting and 20-0 Sunday.

But they beat the Steelers 30-15 in Week 6.

''I'm pretty sure they feel like they've gotten better,'' Miami safety Michael Thomas said.

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is one of the few players on the Dolphins' young roster with playoff experience.

''This is my third time in the playoffs, and I just know the feeling going into games - very, very intense,'' Suh said. ''Through the roof.''

When they start, the Patriots will be watching and resting. They're a No. 1 seed for the sixth time since 1990, most in the NFL.

''It's good to be in this position, and try to take advantage of this time off and get some good things accomplished, and be ready to play our best football whenever we play,'' Brady said.

NEWCOMER: The Patriots' Michael Floyd seems poised to play a significant role in the playoffs, even though he has been with the team less than three weeks. Floyd had a 14-yard touchdown catch, and a crushing downfield block that sprang Julian Edelman on a 77-yard touchdown reception.

''That block was a big play for us,'' tight end Martellus Bennett said. ''That's an extra 50 yards, because Julian's not that fast.''

The touchdown was Floyd's first with the Patriots. He was claimed off waivers Dec. 15 after the Cardinals released him following a DUI arrest in Arizona.

''I'm in a good place,'' Floyd said. ''I'm not looking back at the past. It's all about moving forward, and I'm glad that I'm here and the people around me. I feel wanted, and that's a good feeling.''

TANNEHILL TIME?: Dolphins coach Adam Gase declined to say whether starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill might return for the playoffs. Matt Moore is 2-1 as a starter filling in for Tannehill, who is recovering from a strained left knee.

FIERY LANDRY: Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry had nine catches for 76 yards to finish the season with 94 for 1,136. He bounced off a linebacker to score on an 8-yard catch, then spiked his helmet and drew a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

NOT SUPER, MARIO: Miami's Mario Williams was inactive, capping a disappointing regular season for the four-time Pro Bowl defensive end. He battled injuries and had only 1+ sacks after signing a $17 million, two-year deal.

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Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/steven-wine

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