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Buffalo Bills clinch first AFC East title since 1995 season

Related: How the Patriots can return to the top of the AFC East in 2021

NFL: DEC 19 Bills at Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The race for the AFC East title is over, and for the first time since 1995 the division crown is going to Buffalo: the Bills beat the Denver Broncos on Saturday to improve their record to 11-3 and solidify their standing atop the AFC East.

Their only only remaining competitor, the Miami Dolphins, will be unable to catch up to them over their last three games of the season. Regardless of Sunday’s game versus the New England Patriots, the 8-5 Dolphins will finish no better than second place.

Winning the division is the latest step towards reestablishing the Bills as one of the major powers in the AFC — a development that started back in 2017 with the hiring of head coach Sean McDermott was hired, and continued with the addition of quarterback Josh Allen in the first round of the draft once year later. The two led Buffalo to a 16-16 record as a well as a playoff birth over their first two seasons together.

Now, they have led the team to the postseason again and can also call a division crown their own. Thus ends a 24-year title drought that saw seven head coaches plus two interims come and go after the legendary Marv Levy, and all other teams in the AFC East plus the since-relocated Indianapolis Colts win it.

The most recent victors are, of course, the Patriots. New England won the division 19 times since Buffalo’s last title — including an NFL record 11 straight between 2009 and 2019. The first season without Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, however, saw the team take a step back: at 6-7, the Patriots did not just fail to defend their spot atop the AFC East mountain, they are also in major danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

The power vacuum that was created following New England’s tumultuous offseason — Brady was just one of numerous cornerstone players who left the team — has now been filled. Congratulations to the 2020 AFC East champions; congratulations to the Buffalo Bills!