The Patriots' 11-Year AFC East Reign is Officially Over

The Bills officially ended Pats' NFL-record streak on SNF originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

As if 2020 couldn't get any weirder, it won't end with the New England Patriots celebrating an AFC East title.

The Buffalo Bills moved to 10-3 Sunday night after their 26-15 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. With three games remaining, the 6-7 Patriots can't catch Buffalo in the division race -- which means New England's streak of 11 consecutive AFC East banners is over.

The last time the Patriots didn't win the division was 2008, when they finished tied with the Miami Dolphins at 11-5 but lost on a tiebreaker and missed the postseason.

Here's an even more remarkable stat, courtesy of The Athletic's Jeff Howe: 2020 will mark the first time since Bill Belichick's first season in New England that an AFC East team finished with a better record than the Patriots.

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The 2002 Patriots finished second in the AFC East at 9-7, but the New York Jets won the division with the same record, just as the Dolphins did in 2008.

Outside those two seasons, it's been all Patriots, whose 11 straight division titles from 2008 to 2019 were an NFL record. The Atlanta Braves are the only North American professional sports team to win more consecutive division crowns (14).

The 8-5 Dolphins still can catch the Bills for this season's title -- unless the Patriots play spoiler by upsetting Miami next Sunday and/or beating Buffalo in Week 16.

Cam Newton and Co. need to win out and get tons of help to make the postseason, or else be reduced to the very unfamiliar role of playoff spoiler.

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