New England Patriots are AFC East champions again

Bill Belichick calls it a "T-Shirt and Hat" game. In New England, it's become an annual tradition.

The Patriots won their sixth straight AFC East title Sunday with a 41-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins in a game where the scoreboard doesn't tell the story. They are the first team since the 1970's to win six straight division titles. This is Belichick and Tom Brady's 12th division title together. Our takeaways:

  1. The Dolphins should have built a big lead in the first half while dominating the Patriots in total yardage (271-101), but they trailed at halftime 14-13. The Patriots then outscored Miami 24-0 in the third quarter in a performance that was reminiscent of Miami's Week 1 second-half domination. After being held without a catch in the first half, Rob Gronkowski had three huge grabs for 96 yards after halftime.
  1. This game summed up the Dolphins' season well. They are way better than their results indicate, but it doesn't really matter. It was as if the Dolphins realized the first half was the best they could do, and it still wasn't enough.
  1. Ryan Tannehill is a perfect symbol of the team. He played outstanding for the most part, but a few poor throws and some bad luck sunk him. (The bad luck: A long dropped touchdown and a missed penalty call against the Patriots that directly led to an interception.)
  1. Jonas Gray was finally let out of the doghouse in the second half, and he responded with 62 rushing yards on 11 carries. Look for him more down the stretch.
  1. Brady continues to miss vertical throws. He had a very shaky first half but was nearly flawless after the break. He continues to do a good job delivering throws while getting hit.
  1. The return of Chandler Jones made a big difference for this Patriots defense. They moved him around plenty, and it gives them far more pass-rush options. He wound up with 1.5 sacks and two of the team's 10 QB hits.
  1. The consistency of the late Belichick-Brady era Patriots is almost underrated because they haven't won a ring in a decade. The only year they didn't win the division since 2002 was in Matt Cassel's 11-5 2008 season. The Patriots will be the first team in NFL history to have five straight playoff byes if they win one more game.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 15 and discusses all the playoff implications. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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