Don't think the significance of Sunday's game against the New England Patriots hasn't diminished because the Dolphins and Patriots both lost last weekend. These two teams figure to battle it out for the AFC East title all year, and the winner of Sunday's game will take the lead in that battle.

In fact, it's no stretch to say this is one of the biggest games the Dolphins will play all year, even though it's only the fifth week of the season.

Every week is a must win, but this is one of those games that's marked for us right now," said quarterback Jay Fiedler. "We're both tied for the division lead. This is the point where one team can separate itself from the other. This is a huge game leading up to the middle part of the season."

The Dolphins expect to play a lot better than they did in their 48-30 loss to Kansas City, but they also expect New England to come out firing after its 21-14 loss at San Diego.

What follows is a glance at the Dolphins-Patriots matchup.

WHO: Miami Dolphins (3-1) vs. New England Patriots (3-1)

WHEN: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

WHERE: Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Fla.

TV: CBS (Greg Gumbel, play-by-play; Phil Simms, analysis; Armen Keteyian, sidelines)

LINE: Dolphins by 3

NFL RANKINGS: Dolphins, 8th in NFL in total offense, 3rd in rushing offense, 17th in passing offense, 17th in total defense, 9th in rushing defense, 23rd in passing defense

Patriots, 2nd in NFL in total offense, 17th in rushing offense, 1st in passing offense, 9th in total defense, 29th in rushing defense, 1st in passing defense

COACHES: Dolphins, Dave Wannstedt (3rd year with team); Patriots, Bill Belichick (3rd year)

SERIES RECORD: Miami leads 44-29 (1-2 in playoffs)

LAST FIVE MEETINGS: 2001 at New England, Patriots 20, Dolphins 13

2001 at Miami, Dolphins 30, Patriots 10

2000 at New England, Dolphins 27, Patriots 24

2000 at Miami, Dolphins 10, Patriots 3

1999 at Miami, Dolphins 27, Patriots 17

INJURIES: Dolphins — T Mark Dixon (ankle), C Tim Ruddy (groin), LB Twan Russell (knee) and CB Patrick Surtain (knee) are questionable; QB Jay Fiedler (finger), DT Jermaine Haley (ankle), CB Sam Madison (shoulder), CB Paul Miranda (neck), TE Ed Perry (ankle), DE Jason Taylor (knee), T Todd Wade (ankle) and RB Ricky Williams (ribs) are probable.

Patriots — G Joe Andruzzi (knee), WR Troy Brown (knee), TE Daniel Graham (shoulder), DE Rick Lyle (back), DE Anthony Pleasant (shoulder) and C/G Damien Woody (leg) are questionable.

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