New England clinches playoff berth thanks to Buffalo loss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots clinched the AFC East title even before they played the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Playoff picture:
» If the season ended today ...

Buffalo's 36-14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars meant New England has won the division for the fifth consecutive year.

The Patriots are the fourth team since 1978 to clinch a division title during the weekend of their 11th game, joining the 1985 Chicago Bears, the '97 San Francisco 49ers, and the 2004 Eagles.

There is some bad news for the Patriots: They will have to forfeit their first-round draft choice as punishment for using a video camera to spy on opposing coaches on the sideline.

In September, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fined coach Bill Belichick $500,000, docked the team $250,000 and took away a first-rounder if New England made the playoffs or a second- and third-rounders if they didn't.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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