The New England Patriots did not bring some of their core players to Florida to play against the Miami Dolphins tonight. However, the defending world champions brought something else: hats and T-shirts. Despite the Buffalo Bills winning their snowy overtime matchup against the Indianapolis Colts yesterday, New England has a chance to clinch the AFC East later today.
Beating the Dolphins would secure the Patriots their 19th divisional title, increasing their own lead in the AFC East's all-time standings (since the AFL-NFL merger). They currently look like this:
New England Patriots: 18 division titles
Miami Dolphins: 13 division titles
Buffalo Bills: 7 division titles
Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts: 6 division titles
New York Jets: 2 division titles
A win tonight would also give the Patriots their ninth straight division title in a row. The team would extend its own record – one it set with last year by breaking a title-tie with the Los Angeles Rams – in the process and simultaneously also tie the 1975-1983 Dallas Cowboys and the 2002-2010 Indianapolis Colts with a record ninth straight playoff berth.
Of course, most importantly is that a victory would keep New England in good position to earn a first-round playoff bye this season. Furthermore, the team would keep up with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the race for homefield advantage throughout the AFC's portion of the playoff tournament.