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AFC playoff race: New England Patriots can clinch division Sunday

The Patriots can clinch the division with a win Sunday.

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

For the second week in a row, the New England Patriots (10-3) can clinch a spot in the playoffs and the AFC East division title this Sunday. Right now, the Buffalo Bills are the only team left that can overtake the Patriots in the division.

There are two clinching scenarios for Bill Belichick’s squad; they can defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) at 4:25 p.m. Eastern on Sunday to win the division or they can secure the crown without even playing their game if the Bills lose to the Miami Dolphins (6-7) at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. (That second scenario would significantly stunt Buffalo’s own playoff aspirations.)

Buffalo hasn’t won the AFC East since the 1995 season when Jim Kelly was still under center. The Patriots have won it 17 times since then. Miami hasn’t won it since 2008 (when Tom Brady was injured) and their only other win since Buffalo’s last crown was 2000. The New York Jets only have two division titles in their NFL-era history, both during Buffalo’s divisional drought (1998, 2002).