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Patriots capture fifth straight AFC East title as Dolphins lose in Buffalo 12.22.13 at 4:10 pm ET
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Fred Jackson (center) celebrates a touchdown in Buffalo's upset win over the Dolphins. (AP)

Fred Jackson (center) celebrates a touchdown in Buffalo’s upset win over the Dolphins. (AP)

BALTIMORE — The Patriots were winners in warmups.

New England captured its fifth straight AFC East division crown before taking a single snap at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday as the Buffalo Bills shutout the Miami Dolphins, 19-0, Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

It is the fifth straight division title for the Patriots, the ninth in 10 seasons and 11th in 13 years for Bill Belichick. The 11 division titles ties Belichick with Don Shula for the most division titles since the 1970 merger. It also marks the 15th playoff berth in 20 years of ownership by Robert Kraft.

Tom Brady also captured his 11th division title, extending his NFL record by any starting quarterback.

With the division sewed up, the Patriots are guaranteed of a home playoff game for a fifth straight year.

The Patriots were able to soak in the satisfaction while watching the video board inside M&T Bank Stadium, which was showing the Bills-Dolphins games on one half of the scoreboard while featuring the Bengals-Vikings on the other half.

Both games had direct impact on the Patriots and Ravens.

With the Dolphins losing, the Patriots weren’t the only ones punching their playoff ticket as the Bengals clinched their third straight playoff berth with a blowout 42-14 win at home over the Vikings.

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Bill Belichick: Super second-half history has ‘no bearing’ on this week 11.28.12 at 3:09 pm ET
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Bill Belichick was not looking ahead to any possible playoff scenario Wednesday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Fresh from his 200th win as an NFL head coach, Bill Belichick was in rare form Wednesday. That is to say, he wanted nothing to do with talking about how great his team has been or will be.

Dating back to Jan. 3, 2010, the Patriots are 19-0 in regular season games played in the second half of the season.

They are 3-0 this season and he was asked how significant that past history is in developing confidence in his team.

“I don’t think what our record was two years ago has anything to do with this week’s game,” Belichick said without missing a beat or batting an eye. “We’re just trying to focus on what we can do to play well this week.

“I don’t really concern myself too much with what happened in the past or what didn’t happen in the past. Right now we’re just worried about Miam [and] about doing a good job in going down there and playing well Sunday.”

The numbers are pretty overwhelming.

Belichick’s Patriots have posted a perfect second half in four seasons (2003, ’07, ’10, ’11) and have posted a “pedestrian” 7-1 in two more seasons. Both times they went 7-1 in the second half (’01 and ’04), they won the Super Bowl. Three of the four times they’ve gone 8-0, they’ve made it to the Super Bowl, winning once.

“We can look back at other years and talk about them,” Belichick said without even cracking a smile. “I don’t know whether that’s true this year or not. We’ll see.”

Belichick’s Patriots are on a five-game winning streak, and at 8-3, can clinch their 10th AFC East title in 12 years with a win on Sunday in South Florida. They lead the NFL in scoring with 407 points, turnover differential (+24) and total yards per game (435.8). Everything is pointing in the right direction.

“I think we’ve done some things well in the last couple of games,” Belichick said. “I don’t think that really has any bearing on this game. Different team, different match ups, different schemes. It’s all different. Whether we did or didn’t last week, or some other week, or some other year, I don’t think, any of it really matters.”

All that matters to Belichick is shortening the season while his team gets better and better. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tom Brady and ‘mentally tough’ Pats ready to turn up the heat in Miami for an AFC East title at 1:57 pm ET
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Tom Brady all bundled up for Wednesday practice even though it will be 75 Sunday in Miami. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO -– Tom Brady is a lot of things. All-world quarterback. Super-model spouse. And weather watcher – especially when it affects what he does on his workdays.

The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and 80 degrees in South Florida for the 1 p.m. kickoff between the Patriots and Dolphins. Still, the Patriots chose to practice outdoors Wednesday as the begin preparations.

What’s at stake?

If the Patriots win, they clinch the AFC East by virtue of their 5-0 record in the division and a four-game lead over the Dolphins with four games remaining. They will own every tie-breaker as the Dolphins will already have three division losses.

“Well, there’s always motivation for us to go out there and win and this is a great opportunity for us,” Brady said. “We haven’t played these guys all season; it’s the first time getting a shot at them and we play them down there in their stadium. They won last week against Seattle, so I hope we go play well. We’ve been playing well since we lost to Seattle, I think, and hopefully we can keep it going. But they present plenty of challenges for us and they’ve beaten some pretty good teams this year. It should be a fun game.”

With a division title for the 10th time in 12 seasons, the Patriots will assure themselves of a home game in the playoffs. But of course, their sights are set much higher, like a No. 1 or 2 seed and a first-round bye.

“It’s very important,” Brady said. “We’re always trying to win every game we play and certainly playing against the Dolphins, a team we know very well playing them twice a year, it would to be a nice little day if we can go down there in Florida, which is always a tough place to play, especially this time of year when we haven’t really played a warm weather game in a while. So it will be fun.”

About the weather, how does he and the team go about preparing for that warm weather when it’s cold up out on the practice fields like Wednesday?

“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” Brady said. “We’re out on the grass fields in 35 degree weather; I don’t think it’s going to be 35 down there on Sunday. But we’ll just try to be a little bit mentally tough. I think that’s the only way you can do it.”

Here’s the rest of Wednesday’s Q and A with Brady in Foxboro: Read the rest of this entry »

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Setting the scene: Patriots-Broncos 12.18.11 at 12:23 pm ET
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With a win, Tom Brady and the Patriots will have plenty to shout about, including another AFC East title. (AP)

It will be a very mild day in the Mile High City when the Patriots take the field against Tim Tebow and the Broncos this afternoon at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s at kickoff as the 10-3 Patriots can clinch their third straight AFC East title and their ninth in 11 seasons with their sixth straight win. The Patriots also clinch the AFC East with a tie and a Jets’ loss or just a Jets’ loss at Philadelphia.

The Patriots will not have Deion Branch today as he injured his groin last week during the win over the Redskins. Branch was ruled out Saturday night by the team. Patrick Chung didn’t even make the trip to Denver, as he and his injured right foot took in the Celtics scrimmage Friday at TD Garden, staying behind as the team traveled west on Friday afternoon, heading out early to adjust to the time change and altitude.

Also ruled out by the team on Saturday night were offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (right foot), who will miss his third straight game, linebacker Brandon Spikes (right knee), missing his sixth straight game and Shane Vereen (hamstring). That leaves just two players who will be gameday scratches, one of whom will be likely be quarterback Ryan Mallett, inactive since Week 3 against the Bills.

Safety Ross Ventrone was signed off the practice squad on Saturday and will be activated for today’s game. He takes the place defensive back Malcolm Williams, who was released this week. Coach Bill Belichick said Williams was released for this game because they felt other players could better fit their scheme this week.

While the Broncos have one of the best pass rushes in the NFL, there is reason to think the Tom Brady could pick apart the secondary. Safety Brian Dawkins (neck) reportedly did not participate in the Broncos walkthrough on Saturday while various reports indicate another safety – David Bruton (Achilles) is also expected to be out. The team signed safety Kyle McCarthy back to active roster Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pats-Bills: Ready to rumble 12.26.10 at 11:20 am ET
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The Patriots can clinch their eighth AFC East Division title in their last 10 seasons with a win today in Orchard Park.

But far more importantly, the Patriots can assure themselves of a bye week of rest and ensure the AFC road to Super Bowl XLV rolls through Foxboro with a 15th straight win over the Bills as they would lock up the No. 1 seed.

The weather doesn’t figure to be nearly the issue that it is today in Philadelphia where the NFL is giving serious consideration of postponing the game game because of a forecast of over 20 inches of snow with 35 MPH winds.

It’ll be typically cold in Western New York for the last Sunday in December where a game time temperature of 21 is expected with wind chills around 10 degrees. Wind could be a factor with winds of up to 20 MPH expected. There will be flurries throughout the afternoon and the possibility of a snow shower.

The domination of the Bills by the Patriots has been well documented. The last time the Patriots were beaten by Buffalo, New England was still trying to deal with the release of popular safety Lawyer Milloy before the 2003 season opener. That week, the Patriots were blown out by the Bills, 31-0, that Sunday, Sept. 7, 2003.

Consider:

- The Red Sox were still 14 months away from ending their 86-year World Series title drought.

- The Patriots – at the time – had just a 46-40-1 advantage in their all-time series. It now stands at 60-40-1.

- The 14-game streak is the third-longest winning streak by one team over another in NFL history.

- Speaking of history Tom Brady needs to throw just three passes without an interception to pass Bart Starr and move into second on the all-time list of passes without being picked off. As a matter of fact, it’s likely the Patriots quarterback could have the chance of breaking Bernie Kosar‘s all-time record of 308 passes without an interception. Brady enters with 292 passes since last being intercepted on Oct. 17 against Baltimore.

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Nick Caserio admits it: Jets game ‘a little more’ significant 11.29.10 at 4:29 pm ET
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The man responsible for helping coach Bill Belichick put together the Patriots roster came out and didn’t exactly say the Jets game next Monday night is all about revenge or the end of the world.

But player personnel chief Nick Caserio on Monday did acknowledge the magnitude of the showdown at Gillette Stadium next Monday in a match-up of 9-2 teams who share the best records in the NFL.

“Later in the year, those games, they take on maybe a little more significance,” Caserio said.

What’s at stake? A lot. And everyone who draws a paycheck in Foxboro knows it.

Forget pride. Monday night is all about home field advantage in the upcoming playoffs. Win and you’re likely to not only have a home game and probably a bye in the opening round, but you’re looking at home field through to the AFC title game.

Lose and you’re not only going to probably lose out on the AFC East but you’re going to have to start the playoffs on the road and will have to battle through an extra round of the playoffs. Caserio points to wins over Pittsburgh and Indianapolis back-to-back as prime examples of the Patriots responding when put to the test – which they certainly will next Monday night. Read the rest of this entry »

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Welcome to Gillette: Pats vs. Bills 09.26.10 at 9:51 am ET
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FOXBORO — Another mild day is on tap at Gillette Stadium as the 1-1 Patriots battle the 0-2 Bills in a game that figures to bring a sense of urgency for both teams for very different reasons.

Singular Sensation: Moss collects 150th TD last week

Singular Sensation: Moss collects 150th TD last week

Temperatures are expected in the upper 60s with partly cloudy skies and brisk breeze for the 1 p.m. ET kickoff.

Fresh from his catch that vaulted him to a perfect ’100′ score in EA Sports last week against the Jets, Randy Moss is featured on the cover of Patriots GAMEDAY today, making his one-handed grab against Darrelle Revis, not pictured.

The Patriots are desperate to bounce back from their second-half meltdown against the Jets while the Bills have already changed their quarterback, going with Harvard product Ryan Fitzpatrick in place of Trent Edwards.

Fitzpatrick against the Pats secondary is a matchup that bears close monitoring. Darius Butler could be replaced by Kyle Arrington at right corner while rookie Devin McCourty starts at left corner. Edwards is a receiver that was known to check down and go to his safe outlets whereas Fitzpatrick figures to take more deep shots.

Whether or not Bret Lockett is available to the Patriots is another matter altogether. Various sources confirmed to the WEEI.com his arrest early Saturday in Providence.

Some notes to keep in mind:

- The Patriots have beaten the Bills 13 straight times dating back to the infamous Lawyer Milloy game of Sept. 7, 2003, when the Patriots cut the popular safety the week before the season opener. The Bills came out and smoked the Patriots, 31-0, at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Patriots would return the favor by the identical score in the season finale and cap off the season with the second of their three Super Bowl titles.

- The 13 straight wins against the Bills marks the longest streak against any team in Patriots history. They also have an 11-gamer against the Bills from Jan. 2, 1983 through Dec. 20, 1987.

- The Bills are 0-for-their-franchise at Gillette, losing all eight encounters, with their closest call coming last year in the Monday night season opener, falling 25-24 on a last-minute Tom Brady-to-Ben Watson hookup. The Patriots have won nine straight at home against Buffalo, dating back to a 16-13 overtime win in the 2000 season.

- The Patriots have 59 wins against the Bills lifetime, the most by the Pats against any NFL opponent. New England is 59-40-1 all-time against their old AFL rival.

- Brady is 15-1 against Buffalo. Additionally, he is 12-4 against the Jets and 10-6 against Miami and 2-0 against the Colts [in the AFC East]. All told, Brady is 39-11 against division opponents. Brady is trying to avoid losing consecutive games to AFC East teams for the second time in his career. The only time he has lost back-to-back games against division rivals came in 2006 when he dropped a Nov. 12 game to the Jets at Gillette, 17-14, and a 21-0 decision to the Dolphins in South Florida four weeks later.

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