The New England Patriots did not look dominant while beating the visiting Buffalo Bills today, but they played complementary football and still appeared to be in control of the game pretty much from start to finish. Their 24-12 victory obviously has big implications on the AFC’s playoff picture — with the Patriots moving back into the number two seed — but the most basic fallout is this: New England has won the AFC East for a 10th straight year.
To put in perspective how incredible of a feat this is: the longest active streak when it comes to winning the division that is not held by the Patriots is shared by four clubs at the moment — the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, and Los Angeles Rams — that have each won their respective divisions two times in a row (the Chiefs and Steelers can both go to three straight titles this year).
The longest streak in history before the Patriots broke it was seven straight division titles held by the Los Angeles Rams of the late 1970s. Safe to say that New England’s current run of excellence is a historic one, especially considering that it takes place in a salary cap/free agency era that has been implemented in the 1990s to bring parity to the NFL and get all the teams back to the mean after some short period of time at the top.
This season, the Patriots are closer to that mean than they have been in quite some time: they will finish the regular season with more than four losses for the first time since 2009, and have been inconsistent for most of the year. And today’s game against the Bills was no different: while New England was dominant in the running game on both sides of the ball, the passing offense struggled to get into a rhythm for most of the day.
It was not a flawless victory, just like most of the Patriots’ victories this season. However, they still kept winning through all their inconsistencies and issues — personnel-wise and performance-wise — to capture yet another division crown and get a chance to compete in the playoffs. And as we have seen in the past, once the postseason is kicked off all that happened before can be thrown out the window to a certain degree.
In a way, today’s win was therefore still the perfect one for New England at this point in time and when it comes to capturing the AFC East: it was an imperfect game yet again but one that ultimately ended in success. And so far, this is the story of the 2018 Patriots in a nutshell. How many chapters will still be added to it is unclear, but the team put itself in a position today to keep on writing beyond wild card weekend.
And no matter what you think about this team and its title aspirations as a whole, this is certainly a positive and something worth feeling good about.
Welcome to the Pats Pulpit Live Postgame Show! The Patriots clinched their 10th straight AFC East title today with a win over the Bills. Send us your questions and comments!Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, December 23, 2018