It was more of the same in the AFC East when the Patriots and Dolphins met Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
A mostly one-sided game went the Patriots’ way as New England improved to 9-2 on the season, meaning they now have 17 straight winning seasons to their name. That’s the most consecutive winning seasons since the 1970 merger, breaking a tie with the 49ers (1983-98) and Cowboys (1970-85).
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And of course being in the same division as New England, the Dolphins have played a big part in that Patriots run.
The entire AFC East has, really. New England aside, the AFC East has been one of the worst divisions in the NFL since the turn of the century.
And the domination has been obvious.
In fact, since 2001 no team has had a bigger stranglehold on its division than the Patriots. Since 2001, the Patriots are 78-22 against teams in their own division, a .780 winning percentage that puts them at the top of the list. Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and Indianapolis are all hovering around a .700 winning percentage in their respective divisions.
So just how bad have things been for the rest of the AFC East over that time? Really, really, bad actually.
The Jets are 47-56, a record “good” enough for second place in the division ahead of the 42-59 Dolphins and 36-64 Bills.
There are 14 division titles for the Patriots (with another on the way), one for the Jets (2002), and one for the Dolphins (2008, the year Brady was injured).
And what’s even worse for these division teams? The Patriots get stronger as the season progresses. Since 2001, they are 39-11 from November until the end of the season against AFC East teams. Oh, and four of their remaining five games of the regular season are against AFC East teams, too.
Quarterback play and coaching are two of the biggest and most obvious reasons behind the Patriots’ success and lack thereof for the other teams in the division.
Behind Brady and Bill Belichick, the Patriots are the model of consistency while a coaching and quarterback carousel continues in the AFC East. This season, the Patriots will go up against the Jets’ Josh McCown, the Dolphins’ Matt Moore or Jay Cutler, and the Bills’ Tyrod Taylor (or Nathan Peterman – really!). And this is par for the course, as these teams have all failed to develop star quarterbacks over the years while the Patriots possess arguably the greatest one of all-time.
And if Sunday was any indication, Brady and the Patriots will continue to wreak havoc on AFC East foes for the foreseeable future, as the 40-year old threw four touchdown passes against the Dolphins to push his total for the season to 26, the most in one season by a 40-year old quarterback.
On tap next is Brady’s personal punching bag, the Buffalo Bills, a team that he is 26-3 against over his career. A win on Sunday in Buffalo, where the Patriots have lost just twice since 2001, will give him the record for most wins over a single opponent.
The AFC East, ladies and gentlemen.