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East-leading Pats can still earn a bye

There will be a hefty shipment of hats and T-shirts sent to Foxborothis week. Whether or not the Patriots will rock the newest “AFC EastChampions” garb Sunday afternoon remains to be seen, though.<p />

There will be a hefty shipment of hats and T-shirts sent to Foxboro this week. Whether or not the Patriots will rock the newest “AFC East Champions” garb Sunday afternoon remains to be seen, though.

After the Patriots beat the Bills, and the Dolphins and Jets both lost Sunday, the Pats can win the division with one win or one Dolphins loss.

“This is a big game coming up,” Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain said. “We’ve got to definitely put our best game together this week to get this division clinched.”

The Jets (7-7) are eliminated from the AFC East title race, so it’s a battle between the Patriots (9-5) and Dolphins (7-7). If both finish 9-7, the Dolphins would win the fourth tiebreaker based on a superior record against AFC opponents. In that scenario, the Dolphins would be 7-5 in the conference, and the Patriots would be 6-6.

Miami would also claim the division crown if the Patriots, Dolphins and Jets all finish 9-7, because the Dolphins were a combined 3-1 against the other two, while the Patriots were 2-2 and Jets were 1-3.

Additionally, the Patriots can still possibly secure a first-round bye. If the Patriots and Chargers (11-3) finish in a two-way tie at 11-5, the Pats would win the tiebreaker due to a better record against common opponents.

‘That’s a great feeling when you come in the locker room and those things are there, but we’ve got to get through Jacksonville to get those,” Banta-Cain said.

 
 
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