How Miami has been a danger zone for Patriots and Tom Brady

Tom Brady has had success just about everywhere in his career, but Miami has given him particular trouble, as it did last year in a 27-20 loss last Dec. 11. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

DAVIE, Fla. -- One of the most puzzling phenomenons in the Tom Brady era has been his struggles in Miami.

Brady is 7-9 vs. the Dolphins in Miami. He has thrown 15 interceptions in those games. Brady is 15-1 vs. the Dolphins in Foxborough, Massachusetts, with the lone loss coming in a Jan. 1, 2006 game in which Brady played only the first quarter before giving way to Matt Cassel.

Brady and the New England Patriots (9-3) return to South Florida on Sunday to play the 6-6 Dolphins with a chance to clinch the AFC East. The current forecast for Sunday's game in Miami Gardens calls for high of 83 degrees, scattered thunderstorms and 75 percent humidity. It's setting up to be a muggy day.

"Not hot enough," quarterback Ryan Tannehill joked as he was told the weather walking off the podium Wednesday.

Miami has won four of their past five home games against New England. The Dolphins are 4-1 at home this season behind one of the NFL's best home-field advantages.

“Oh, it’s definitely the humidity," former Patriots linebacker and ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi said. "It’s probably a 50-degree shift from New England to Miami. That makes a big difference.”

The Patriots have already played one game in Florida in 2018 -- on Sept. 16 in Jacksonville, where the kickoff temperature was the hottest in the NFL in 15 years, a suffocating 97 degrees. The Patriots lost to the Jaguars 31-20.

The weather in Foxborough this week has been in the 20s and 30s, so there will be difference of roughly 60 degrees. Brady confirmed Bruschi's thoughts on the Miami weather during an interview with Westwood Radio on Monday.

“It’s been a challenging environment," Brady said. "I think the climate plays some role and they always seem to play well when they play us down there. We are not going to get beat by the weather; we’re going to get beat by the Dolphins. That is what we realize. We’re going up against a good opponent that plays us very well at home. We play them very well at home. It is just one of those series where it is kind of like that."

The issue for Brady in Miami is that even in December, the temperature regularly sits in the 80s, including on Sunday.

Patriots safety Devin McCourty has an easier explanation for the team's struggles in Miami: "We've just sucked."

Last December, Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard intercepted Brady twice in Miami's 27-20 upset victory on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Howard appears unlikely to play Sunday with a knee injury.

In contrast, Tannehill is 3-0 in his past three home games vs. the Patriots, with seven touchdowns and one interception.

Tannehill said conditioning in heat and humidity become more important. He figures teams from northern climates often struggle with that in the fall and winter months because they aren't used to practicing in it on a daily basis.

"Being able to play at home, the weather is always good for us because we're down here all the time. I think sometimes it hits some of these teams pretty hard," Gase said. "Especially now, like last Sunday, you look at those guys at the end of the game and everybody is exhausted."

Of course, Patriots coach Bill Belichick won't say the weather will be a factor in the game.

"I think it’s more the Dolphins," Belichick said over a conference call Tuesday, citing Miami always being tough to play because of their players and Adam Gase's ability to create strong game plans.

Regardless of the reason, the Patriots and Brady will likely be amped to correct this blemish on their record. They've dominated AFC East competition and they can win their 10th consecutive division title with a victory Sunday.